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VIDEO: Rick Santorum Says He Has ‘Nothing To Do’ With His Own Campaign Slogan

Yesterday, I caught up with former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) after a town hall he hosted in Henniker, NH. Earlier that day, he announced his presidential run and unveiled his campaign slogan, “Fighting to make America America again.” ThinkProgress’ Ian Millhiser was quick to point out that “this eloquent turn of phrase” was actually “borrowed from the title of a pro-union, pro-racial justice, and pro-immigrant poem written by Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes — ‘Let America Be America Again.’”

I asked Santorum about the campaign slogan, which was already plastered at the front of the room under the official Santorum campaign posters. Santorum at first distanced himself from it, claiming “I had nothing to do with that.” Asked for a clarification, the former senator laughed and added that his campaign staff “didn’t inform” him about the origin of the phrase. However, Santorum said he has read “some” poems by Hughes:

FANG: Today, you unveiled your new campaign slogan, “Fighting to make America America again.” But was it intentional that this line was borrowed from the pro-union poem by the gay poet Langston Hughes?

SANTORUM: No, because I had nothing to do with that so

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FANG: Oh, alright thanks. Wait did you have a clarification there? Was it just a coincidence?

SANTORUM: I didn’t know that. The folks who worked on that slogan for me didn’t inform me that that’s where it came from, if in fact it came from that.

FANG: Do you like Langston Hughes? Is he a favorite poet?

SANTORUM: I’ve read some of his poems. I’m not a big poetry guy so I can’t say I have a favorite poet, sorry.

Watch it:

Santorum seemed discomforted by the fact that his campaign slogan had been borrowed from Langston Hughes. Perhaps he actually had no role in crafting his own campaign motto. But it was interesting that Santorum — who has made a career demonizing the gay community — recoils when learning that anything associated with him has roots in the gay community.

Update:

The New Hampshire Union Leader, which overheard the exchange between ThinkProgress and Santorum, reported on it this morning. David Weigel has more.