Early in his Thursday-night rally in Elkhart, Indiana, President Trump had a special treat for Hoosiers: He was going to make them the first to hear the tagline for his reelection campaign.
“By the way, this is the first, for Indiana,” he confided. “Our new slogan for 2020. You know what it is? ‘Keep America Great.’ Because we’re doing so well that in another two years when we start the heavy campaign, ‘Make America Great Again’ wouldn’t work out too well.”
But wait a second—that’s not quite right. Didn’t Trump announce his new slogan exactly two months prior, on March 10, in Moon, Pennsylvania? Trump said he was revealing “Keep America Great” then, too, earning the same dutiful headlines. In its writeup, the Washington Examiner focused on how Trump had emphasized the exclamation mark at the end of the phrase.
But wait, that also sounds familiar. Days before his 2017 inauguration, Trump sat for an interview with Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post, in which he triumphantly described how he’d come up with the “Make America Great Again” line. (In reality, as Tumulty pointed out, he hadn’t—Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign first used the phrase, but the Gipper never trademarked it.) Then this happened, according to Tumulty:
Halfway through his interview with The Washington Post, Trump shared a bit of news: He already has decided on his slogan for a reelection bid in 2020.
“Are you ready?” he said. “‘Keep America Great,’ exclamation point.”
This is vintage Trump. He knows it’s not true that he’s really announcing something new, but he also figures that the people at the rally won’t know any better. They weren’t in Moon, and most of the press—no matter how much he maligns them—won’t realize it’s a retread either, leaving the claim largely unchallenged. You can’t make an untruth a truth simply by repeating it enough times, but you might get people to forget it’s not true.