Notable Speeches in Contemporary Presidential Campaigns

Notable Speeches in Contemporary Presidential Campaigns

Notable Speeches in Contemporary Presidential Campaigns

Notable Speeches in Contemporary Presidential Campaigns

Synopsis

Friedenberg examines William Henry Harrison's first ever speech by an American presidential candidate on behalf of his own candidacy as a prelude to the detailed examination of notable contemporary campaign speeches. Key speeches by John F. Kennedy, Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and George W. Bush are analyzed.

Excerpt

Any attempt to identify notable addresses in contemporary presidential campaigns will no doubt be subject to question. Certainly this attempt is by no means definitive. Rather, it represents the judgment of one critic. That judgment was informed by several guidelines.

The first guideline, as the title of this book indicates, was that the speeches studied would be drawn from contemporary campaigns. One exception, to be discussed shortly, was made to that guideline. Since many students of political campaigning think of the 1960 Kennedy vs. Nixon contest as the first contemporary campaign, involving as it did extensive polling, extensive use of television, and political debates, the focus on contemporary campaigns was limited to campaigns since 1960.

Since presidential debates have been studied extensively, the second guideline was to limit this volume to studies of speeches, not remarks made in the context of presidential debates. Third, this critic made the assumption that in elections in which one candidate started with a commanding lead and remained clearly ahead throughout the campaign, no single speech was exceptionally notable, perhaps affecting the election outcome dramatically. On that basis, no speeches from the Nixon vs. McGovern campaign of 1972, the Reagan vs. Mondale campaign of 1984, or the Clinton vs. Dole campaign of 1996 were selected. Though the 1988 Bush vs. Dukakis campaign required Bush to come from behind after the conventions, he did so largely as a consequence of his political advertising. Moreover, he did so quickly and held a commanding lead through most of the campaign. Hence, to this critic, no speech in that campaign seemed to be unusually notable.

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