1952: ADLAI STEVENSON (running against Dwight D. Eisenhower)
WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE SAID - You want a president who can't even pronounce the word "nuclear"?
WHAT HE ACTUALLY SAID - Let's talk sense to the American people! Let's tell them the truth, that there are no gains without pains.
1956: ADLAI STEVENSON (running against Eisenhower the second time)
WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE SAID - Four years in office and the man still can't pronounce "nuclear." And watch out for that Nixon. He's bad news, trust me.
WHAT HE ACTUALLY SAID - We must face the grim reality that 30 million Americans are trying to make ends meet on less than $2,000 a year.
1968: HUBERT HUMPHREY (running against Richard Nixon)
WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE SAID - Look, you hippie kids, I know you wanted McCarthy or Bobby Kennedy and you wound up with me. I know the country's going to hell in a handbasket. I know you don't like me. But if you take me down, you've just elected President Nixon. So it looks like you're stuck with me. Now would you go to the damn Republican convention and riot there instead?!
WHAT HE ACTUALLY SAID - This campaign is about the politics of joy!
1972: GEORGE McGOVERN (running against Richard Nixon)
WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE SAID - We're still in Vietnam. The economy's going down the tubes. Cities are crumbling. And if you think Nixon wasn't somehow involved with the Watergate affair, I'd like some of whatever you're smoking.
WHAT HE ACTUALLY SAID - I'm behind Senator Eagleton 1,000 percent.
1980: JIMMY CARTER (running against Ronald Reagan)
WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE SAID - I'm just warning you, once these conservative nuts get into power, they're going to be around for an awfully long time.
WHAT HE ACTUALLY SAID - (Um, he pretty much did say that. People just didn't like him.)
1984: WALTER MONDALE (running against Ronald Reagan)
WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE SAID - If you think that cutting taxes for the rich and mindlessly chanting "U.S.A.!" makes things better for the poor and middle class, then you probably also think Nancy Reagan telling you to "Just Say No" is going to make the drug problem go away. And the man may have a winning personality, but he's 152 years old. I'm just saying.
WHAT HE ACTUALLY SAID - I'm going to raise taxes.
1988: MICHAEL DUKAKIS (running against George H.W. Bush)
WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE SAID - George Bush called Reagan's economic plan "voodoo economics" -- until he became his running mate. He was pro-choice -- until it became politically inconvenient. Now he's running around talking about "a thousand points of light" while running racist ads against me. The man is a flip-flopper and can't be trusted!
WHAT HE ACTUALLY SAID - This election isn't about ideology, it's about competence.
2000: AL GORE (running against George W. Bush)
WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE SAID - It's simple. Eight years of peace and prosperity minus marital infidelity and Whitewater equals me, Al Gore. See you January 20.
WHAT HE ACTUALLY SAID - Lockbox.
2004: JOHN KERRY (running against George W. Bush)
WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE SAID - Are you better off than you were four years ago?
WHAT HE ACTUALLY SAID - I did NOT shoot myself in the ass in Vietnam in 1969!
2008: BARACK OBAMA (running against John McCain)
WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE SAID - Are you kidding me?! Elect a guy who wants to continue the Bush tax cuts and the war in Iraq -- two of the most disastrous and boneheaded decisions in recent American history?! Look, you may not know exactly what I stand for, but two things I DON'T stand for are enormous budget deficits and this damn war.
WHAT HE ACTUALLY SAID - Yes we can!