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Donkey and Elephant: Party AnimalsAired August 17, 2000 - 2:54 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Have you ever wondered where the Democratic and Republican parties got their symbols? why a donkey and an elephant?
CNN's Anne McDermott did some investigating, here's what she found.
ANNE MCDERMOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The elephant and the donkey, cute? of course. But are they dignified enough to represent the high ideals of the Democratic and Republican parties? Well, it would seem so. But why elephants and donkeys? well, it all began with Andrew Jackson back in 1828.
KEN RUDIN, POLITICAL HISTORIAN: One editorial cartoon had a picture of Jackson on the body of a donkey and said, you know: This jackass doesn't know what he's talking about.
MCDERMOTT: The Democrats had their symbol, and by 1874, cartoonist Thomas Nast gave Republicans their pachyderm, which has it's good points and it's less than good points. Elephants are intelligent, but frequently still find themselves performing for clowns.
And this handler says they're not especially loyal.
UNIDENTIFIED ELEPHANT HANDLER: They'll go with whoever gives them the most carrots. I guess that's the same as a politician.
MCDERMOTT: Now, they do have big ears, donkeys, too, but that's never been considered much of a political liability. As for donkeys, well, they are stubborn, which can be good or bad.
But there is that name of theirs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Basically, their -- that is what their the technical term are, jackasses.
MCDERMOTT: Yes, there may be better symbols. Ben Franklin, for instance, always liked the idea of the turkey. But turkeys can be feisty fowl. How about Republi-canines and Demo-cats? think of the debates you could have. But suppose the Democrats opt for dogs; the Republicans could be pelicans. Oh, don't sell pelicans short. See that? now look again.
And in terms of image, either party might welcome this seal of approval. Or do like Teddy Roosevelt did back in 1912, create your own party icon, like the Bull Moose. Or something with the hide of a rhino, the willingness to stick a neck out and the determination to prove you're not just another pretty face.
But maybe none of this really matters, because, come November, both parties will get a new symbol. The winner gets a great big bird, and the loser? the loser gets the goat.
Anne McDermott, CNN, Los Angeles.
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