WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – Democrat John Kerry (search) shows a fondness for quoting ordinary and famous people to voters who come to hear his ideas and outlook for the country.
At an economic speech Tuesday, listeners got a triple dose of studied quotations to illustrate the presidential candidate's arguments about the Bush administration and the path the country is taking.
Kerry used Franklin Delano Roosevelt's (search) words to tell voters that President Bush hasn't protected one of Roosevelt's signature programs, Social Security (search). He quoted Roosevelt, campaigning for the White House during the Great Depression (search), as saying President Hoover had jeopardized "the welfare of our people and the credit of our country."
Tying that campaign to the present day, Kerry quoted baseball legend Yogi Berra (search): "Let me say it plainly, 72 years ago, it's deja vu all over again."
And to illustrate the idea that years of bipartisan work had built a budget surplus, Kerry quoted — and discovered the crowd's deep affection for — former President Clinton.
"As my friend, our friend President Clinton likes to say," Kerry said then stopped, interrupted by applause. "As our friend President Clinton likes to say, if you see a turtle sitting on a fence post, you know it didn't get there by itself."
An unidentified woman from Ohio provided a line heard at almost every one of Kerry's recent campaign rallies. She sent the Massachusetts senator a message through a staffer, telling the candidate, "Senator Kerry, we've got your back."
Kerry delivers the line, then turns it around to tell the crowds, "I've got your back, too."
Most often, the quotable notable is a former president.
Speaking Monday on health care in Tampa, Fla., Kerry invoked the words of President Truman. "We should resolve now that the health of this nation is a national concern; that financial barriers in the way ... of health shall be removed; that the health of all citizens deserves the help of all the nation."
Last week, Kerry threw out a list of economic statistics and concluded with the words of President Reagan: "Facts are stubborn things."
He has quoted Reagan's wife, Nancy, to invoke the urgency of expanding embryonic stem cell research.
"I think that Nancy Reagan, a woman of great courage and compassion, put it best when she said, 'I just don't see how we can turn our backs on this. ... We have lost so much time already. I just really can't bear to lose any more,"' Kerry said earlier this month.
To indict the president's energy bill, Kerry quoted a popular Republican.
"It's no wonder Senator John McCain has called the Bush energy bill the 'no lobbyist left behind act,"' he said.
A verbal jab from a boxer has also been heard frequently in Kerry's rally remarks.
It started with a punch thrown by Bush: "He can run, but he can't hide." The line comes from former heavyweight champion Joe Louis, and Bush often repeats it as he criticizes Kerry's record in the Senate.
The Democratic challenger jabs back with a quote from Muhammad Ali from his 1974 match against George Foreman in Zaire, better known as the "Rumble in the Jungle."
Foreman was the undefeated favorite and had Ali against the ropes, pounding his ribs. Even though he was taking a beating, Ali taunted Foreman, "Is that all you got, George?"
"After a campaign that's filled with excuses to justify your record and false attacks on mine, is that all you've got, Mr. President?" Kerry said recently in Milwaukee.