Politically quotable

With the Iowa caucuses kicking off the start of presidential season, let’s take a brief look back at what the candidates have said so far. Here are the two best quotes of the political preseason from the copy editor’s perspective:

RUNNER-UP

Candidate: Mitt Romney

What he said: “If you look at the dictionary, the term ‘saw’ includes ‘being aware of’ in the sense I’ve described. It’s a figure of speech and very familiar, and it’s very common. And I saw my dad march with Martin Luther King. I did not see it with my own eyes, but I saw him in the sense of being aware of his participation in that great effort.”

Why he said it: Romney was trying to explain claims that his father, then the governor of Michigan, marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King during the civil rights era. The Huffington Post explains in this timeline.

Why it’s interesting: Romney’s efforts to broadly define “saw” remind us of the need to be precise in our word choices. It’s worth noting that most readers and listeners will take things literally rather than figuratively, as most people likely did here.

Aftermath: The MLK imbroglio seems to have disappeared, but Romney has found himself in a tough fight with Mike Huckabee in Iowa.

WINNER

Candidate: Tom Tancredo.

What he said: “I have to tell you, so far it’s been wonderful, because all I’ve heard so far is people trying to out-Tancredo Tancredo. It is great!”

Why he said it: During a debate, rival candidates were taking a hard line on immigration, the major issue in Tancredo’s campaign.

Why it’s interesting: Not only did Tancredo speak of himself in the third person, he also turned his surname into a verb. The “-out” prefix is a nice touch.

Aftermath: Tancredo dropped out of the race last month and endorsed Romney.