Santorum Disowns Slogan by Gay Black Poet

Rick Santorum is backing away from the campaign slogan featured on the website for his exploratory committee, "Fighting to Make America America again," after it was pointed out to him that it was first made famous in a pro-union poem by the gay poet Langston Hughes.

ThinkProgress first pointed out Thursday that the line on the website homepage is from Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes's poem "Let America Be America Again":

At an event Thursday in New Hampshire, Santorum was asked by Lee Fang of ThinkProgress whether he realized the association. "No I had nothing to do with that," he said. "I didn't know that. And the folks who worked on that slogan for me didn't inform me that it came from that, if it in fact came from that."

When he was later asked what it means to him, Santorum replied: "Well, I'm not too sure that's my campaign slogan, I think it's on a web site."

But he also used it in the official press release announcing his exploratory committee earlier this week:

"In 2008 Americans wanted a president who they could believe in, but after two years they realized that what they needed is a president who believes in them," said Senator Santorum. "It's time for America to be America again — an America that rewards innovation and hard work, that stands by our allies instead of our enemies, that protects even the most vulnerable of our society, and an America that says every life is to be cherished. That is what I believe in, and that's why I'm taking this next step in a possible run for president."

Here's the poem:

O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas In search of what I meant to be my home- For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore, And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea, And torn from Black Africa's strand I came To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay-
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again-
The land that never has been yet-
And yet must be-the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine-the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME-


Santorum Disowns Slogan by Gay Black Poet Republished with permission from TalkingPointsMemo.com. Authored by Jillian Rayfield. Photo via AP. TPM provides breaking news, investigative reporting and smart analysis of politics.