Could Obama lose ‘hope’ sweepstakes to President Taft?

President-elect Barack Obama may lose his hope-mongering reputation to an unlikely suspect — rotund Republican president William Howard Taft, who occupied the White House 100 years ago.

According to SpeechWars.com, Taft uttered the word “hope” in his 1909 inaugural address 10 times, far and away the most of any president.

Counting the number of instances “hope” is mentioned in Obama’s Jan. 20 speech could generate a whole new cottage industry of presidential drinking games.

But all is not lost for Obama’s continued adoration of Abraham Lincoln. Though Honest Abe said “hope” just twice in his second inaugural address, those two words accounted for more than 3/10ths of his speech by percentage, besting the other commanders-in-chief.

According to DemConWatch, Obama is using Lincoln’s brief, powerful speech as inspiration for his own:

“I’m not sure whether that has been wise because every time you read that second inaugural you start getting intimidated, especially because it is really short,” he said that day. “There is a genius to Lincoln that is not going to be matched.”

With at least three drafts behind him, Obama is nearly done with his own speech, an aide said Thursday – striving for a tone that’s soaring but accessible, simple but inspiring, urgent and confident all at once.

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Wendy Norris

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