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Deshler Elementary School (previously Deshler High and Grade School)

Bring Us Together was a political slogan popularized after the election of Richard Nixon to the Presidency in 1968. The text was derived from a sign carried by 13-year-old Vicki Lynne Cole at one of Nixon's rallies during the campaign.

Cole was briefly the subject of intensive publicity after the campaign when President-elect Nixon alluded to the sign, which stated "Bring Us Together Again" in his victory speech. She had carried it at a rally held in her hometown during the Republican candidate's whistle-stop tour. The sign was seen by Nixon or a member of his staff, and, after the election, President-elect Nixon mentioned the sign and adopted the theme "Bring Us Together" in his victory speech as that of his administration. Nixon invited Cole and her family to the Inauguration, but she afterwards faded into obscurity.



Cole was an eighth grader in the small town of Deshler, Ohio; her father was the local Methodist minister while her mother taught third grade. She was the second of four children, and, by her own description, was on the honor roll but not the "super honor roll" of straight-A students.[1]

Rally and sign

The Deshler, Ohio railroad station, as seen in 2009

On October 22, 1968, the day of Nixon's stop in Deshler, Cole attended eighth-grade class as usual. During the morning session, one of her teachers announced that any girls interested in being "Nixonettes" should report to the fire station after school. Cole did so, along with her friend, Rita Bowman, and the girls were provided with paper red, white, and blue dresses and signs. Cole's said, "L.B.J. Convinced Us—Vote Republican".[1]

That afternoon, Cole attended the rally, wearing her dress and holding her sign. The Nixon train pulled in, and the police dropped the rope holding the crowd back. As the crowd surged forward, Cole was bumped and pushed in the crowd, dropping her sign.[2] Instead of picking up her sign, Cole pushed forward to get close to the train, and as she neared the train, she saw another sign on the ground, face down. She picked it up and displayed it without even reading it.[1]

Cole observed Nixon and thought he was a good family man, looking warm and friendly and appearing much as she expected him to. She did not even look at the sign until she was teased about it by a classmate, who suggested the sign, "Bring Us Together Again" was about boys, not politics. She kept the dress, but threw away the sign.[1]



Victory speech and Inauguration

Nixon had used the phrase, recollecting it as "Bring Us Together Again" in a speech at Madison Square Garden on October 31, 1968, but the phrase received little coverage until after the election.[3] In his victory speech on November 6, Nixon recalled the sign:

I saw many signs in this campaign, some of them were not friendly; some of them were very friendly. But the one that touched me the most was one that I saw in Deshler, Ohio, at the end of a long day of whistle-stopping. A little town. I suppose five times the population was there in the dusk. It was almost impossible to see, but a teenager held up a sign, "Bring us together." And that will be the great objective of this administration at the outset, to bring the American people together.[4]

Reporters and photographers descended on Deshler, about 45 miles from Toledo, and interviewed the girl in the principal's office. Cole indicated that being interviewed by reporters from Washington, New York, and Chicago was more fun than sitting in history class.[1]

In December, the President-elect invited Reverend and Mrs. Cole and their family to attend the Inauguration.[5] The family was brought to Washington by the Inaugural Committee.[6] Vicki Cole carried a replica of her sign on one of the floats in the Inaugural parade.[7]

Political fallout

Deshler, Ohio fire department, where the "Nixonettes" assembled

The Inaugural Committee wanted to adopt "Bring Us Together" as the inaugural theme, appalling speechwriter William Safire, who said, "That wasn't the theme of the campaign."[4] White House Chief of Staff-designate H.R. Haldeman managed to get the theme changed to "Forward Together", but the phrase "Bring Us Together" was thrown in the face of the Nixon Administration by Democrats each time something divisive was proposed, and was used as the title of a tell-all expose by Leon Panetta after he was fired from the Nixon Administration for differing from the White House over civil rights policy.[4]

In 2008, political reporter Bob Greene recalled Cole in reporting on the saga of Joe Wurzelbacher, who became known as "Joe the Plumber", as an another ordinary citizen momentarily thrust into a presidential campaign.[8] Safire, in his political dictionary also published in 2008, implies that the sign carried by Cole may never have existed.[3]

Cole's later life

The Cole family moved to Bryan, Ohio, after Rev. Cole was reassigned. In late 1970, Vicki Cole indicated in an interview that Nixon was doing the best that he could.[9] In 1972, Cole served as Ohio chair of a future voters organization for the Nixon campaign. She then left politics, devoting her spare time to training and showing horses, and attended a horsemanship school in West Virginia.

In 1976, Cole married Bob Smith. She voted for the reelection of Gerald Ford as president in November 1976, and continued to feel sympathy for former President Nixon, though she felt his resignation was necessary.[10] After working at a horse farm near Delaware, Ohio, she was, as of January 1977, working as a loan teller at a bank in that town. She was then the sole support of her family, with her husband unemployed.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d e Ripley, Anthony (November 8, 1968), "Ohio girl, 13, recalls "Bring Us Together" placard", The New York Times,, retrieved 2009-05-05   (fee for article)
  2. ^ "Girl gave Nixon theme", The Washington Post, November 7, 1968,, retrieved 2009-05-05   (fee for article)
  3. ^ a b Safire, William (2008), Safire's Political Dictionary, Oxford University Press, pp. 83, ISBN 0195343344,, retrieved 2009-06-28  
  4. ^ a b c Evans, Rowland; Novak, Robert (1971), Nixon in the White House: The Frustration of Power, Random House, p. 33–34, ISBN 0394462734  
  5. ^ "Ohio girl who held up sign invited to capital by Nixon", The New York Times, December 4, 1968,, retrieved 2009-05-05   (fee for article)
  6. ^ "Washington awaits the Inauguration", The New York Times, January 19, 1969,, retrieved 2009-05-05   (fee for article)
  7. ^ "Toward the Nixon Inauguration", Time, January 17, 1969,,9171,838850,00.html, retrieved 2009-05-05   (fee for article)
  8. ^ Greene, Bob, Greene: Joe the Plumber, meet Vicki Cole, CNN,, retrieved 2009-05-05  
  9. ^ "Vicki Cole keeps faith in President", The Bryan Times, May 12, 1970,,2509731, retrieved 2009-05-06  
  10. ^ a b ""Bring-Us-Together" girl asks, "Which way now?"", Los Angeles Times, January 17, 1977,, retrieved 2009-05-06   (fee for article)


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