Two Women for President: The Importance of the Announcement Speech on the Campaign

Article excerpt

Abstract

Women keep gaining ground in the world of American politics. There are more women senators, representatives, Supreme Court justices, secretaries of state and governors than ever. Still, America has never had a female president or even vice president. By examining the communication skills of women who have run for president we can begin to assess how a woman creates ethos for the presidency. This study focuses on an understudied genre of campaign speaking; a comparison of two high profile female candidates' announcement speeches from both respective political parties. How a woman reveals that she is a candidate for president is key to her success. The presidential announcements of Elizabeth Dole and Hillary Clinton are examined to consider what introductory communication traits may best serve the next woman who attempts to break the largest and seemingly toughest glass ceiling: the United States presidency.

TWO WOMEN FOR PRESIDENT: THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT SPEECH ON THE CAMPAIGN

The Global Gender Gap Report, which examines data indicating the resources and status of women compared to men throughout the world, showed encouraging signs for women leaders in the United States. For the first time ever, the United States ranked in the top twenty in its 2010 report. Although a hopeful sign, Laura Liswood, co-founder and senior advisor to the Council of Women World Leaders, cautions that the United States is still catching up in the world. She said, "What is lagging is women's presence at the highest levels of power be it management of a business or head of state or government or parliament." America is simply not used to seeing women as power figures in leadership roles. This is especially true of women who have run for president in the United States. Thus, by examining the communication skills of women who have run for president we can begin to assess how a woman creates ethos for the presidency. Additionally, we will be examining a rather understudied genre of campaign speaking; a comparison of two very famous female candidates' announcement speeches from both respective political parties. We argue that how a woman reveals that she is indeed a candidate for president is essential to her success.

Anyone running for president has to make his or her candidacies known. Two of the most well-known women to make their presidential aspirations known are Elizabeth Dole and Hillary Clinton. Before Dole and Clinton, to consider two other well-known women made their presidential intentions known and have perhaps paved a path for Dole and Clinton.

In 1964, the Republican U.S. senator from Maine, Margaret Chase Smith, announced her bid by telling her audience that she was encouraged to run when she realized that:

I would be pioneering the way for a woman in the future-to make the way easier-for her to be elected president of the United States. Perhaps the point that has impressed me the most on this argument is that women before me pioneered and smoothed the way for me to be the first woman to be elected to both the House and the Senate-and that I should give back in return that which had been given to me.

Her bid took her all the way to the convention.

In 1972, Democrat congresswoman Shirley Chisholm was poised and determined when she announced her decision to run for president. She said:

I stand before you today as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the presidency of the United States of America. I am not the candidate of black America, although I am black and proud. I am not the candidate of the women's movement of this country, although I am a woman, and I am equally proud of that. I am not that candidate of any political bosses or fat cats or special interests.

True, that although Shirley Chisholm was "unbought and unbossed" -her campaign slogan-she like Chase Smith-had the burden of running a campaign that was seen as a symbolic gesture. After her bid, Ms. …