In a close race, the right campaign slogan can be crucial to victory. Campaigns often have one or perhaps two that they use to set the tone for a campaign or to attack an opponent or both.

This year, President Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) have trotted out a few themes, but neither appears to have hit on a true winner.

Kerry has talked about "The Real Deal," or used Langston Hughes's "Let America Be America Again." (Which echoes a Ronald Reagan 1980 theme, "Let's Make America Great Again.") An ad yesterday intoned, "Stronger at home, respected in the world."

Bush has used typical incumbent themes, such as "Steady Leadership in Times of Change," which could be risky if folks think the country's going in the wrong direction, or "A Tested Leader," the themes of a safer, stronger country, and "Yes, America Can!"

But think of the great ones of the past, ones we all recall even if we can't remember what they meant. There were William Henry Harrison's "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" in 1840 and James Polk's "54-40 or Fight" in 1844.

Loop Fans can help the candidates! Yes, it's the In the Loop Campaign Slogan Contest! Just pick a creative, memorable campaign slogan for Bush or Kerry or both.

Remember, challenger slogans tend to imply criticism, from Warren G. Harding's "Return to Normalcy" to Jimmy Carter's "A Leader, for a Change."

Some slogans rally the faithful, such as Barry Goldwater's "In your heart you know he's right" or "A choice, not an echo." Some stress general likeability, such as "I Like Ike." Some are essentially meaningless, such as "Nixon's the One" -- which sparked demonstrations of pregnant women carrying that banner -- or Bill Clinton's lame "Bridge to the 21st Century."

Bush I used "kinder, gentler" to stress moderation, and Bush II carried that theme in 2000 with the "compassionate conservative" and "uniter, not divider" slogans.

Some great ones played off a name, such as John C. Fremont's "Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men, Free Speech and Fremont" in 1856.

Watch slogans that promise too much, such as Herbert Hoover's great 1928 theme of "A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage." Then he got hit by the Great Depression. Even so, he picked a traditional incumbent's theme in 1932 -- "Be Safe with Hoover."

Our favorite, unearthed as were many others by Elizabeth Dunn at the Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collections Library, was challenger Thomas E. Dewey's existentialist theme in 1944: "Dewey or Don't We."

Send in your suggestions, no more than one per candidate, to: In the Loop, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or e-mail to: intheloop@washpost.com. Include your name and home and work phone numbers. The 10 winning entries for each campaign will win classic, original, dark-blue-with-white-lettering In the Loop T-shirts. Contest deadline is June 23.

Alphabet Soup

Update on continuing diplomatic work. Last week we had the much-named Bush plan for Mideast democracy settling, after many versions, "Partnership for Progress and a Common Future With the Region of the Broader Middle East and North Africa," or "PPCFRBMENA." Not a catchy acronym to be had.

Diplomats at the G-8 meeting in Georgia last week had developed a program called the "G8 Action Plan: Expanding Global Capability for Peace Support Operations," a senior administration official told reporters. "We haven't worked out an acronym. It's had different names as it's evolved through the weeks. But it's where we are today -- Expanding Global Capability for Peace Support Operations."

Our annotated Diplo-Speak Today dictionary advises that, in acronyms, it's proper to delete hard "g" and hard "c" sounds, so this would be pronounced "EPSO," which probably would become "Epso facto."

Unintended Turnoff

So whose cell phone was it that went off right as Bill Clinton was speaking during the unveiling of the Clintons' portraits at the White House on Monday? None other than that of historian Michael Beschloss. Worse yet, Beschloss fumbled around as it continued to play a catchy tune.

President Bush gets most annoyed when these things happen, and audience members had been sternly admonished to turn off their phones.

Beschloss thought he had. "I'm afraid I'm so 19th-century," he explained yesterday, "I pressed the button to turn it off when I went into the room and accidentally turned it on instead."

Mi Ranch, Su Ranch

Colleague Glenn Kessler, in tracing the origins of President Bush's custom of inviting foreign leaders to his ranch in Crawford, Tex., found that the tradition appears to have stemmed from his first foreign visit as president.

One month after taking office, he traveled to Mexican President Vicente Fox's hacienda, and the two men, tieless and in cowboy boots, basked in the informality of the event.

Seeking a similar connection with another leader, President Jose Maria Aznar of Spain, Bush wanted a similar informal side trip when he made his first visit to Europe. Aznar had no ranch but arranged for a state-owned guesthouse. Still, the White House described it at the time as Aznar's ranch -- as did Bush, when he welcomed him to Crawford in February 2003.

"I visited his ranch on my first visit to Europe as the president," Bush said, as Aznar remained diplomatically silent. "I'm very pleased to return the hospitality."