Political Speechmaking- Week 3

It is easy to say that speechwriting and presenting plays the ultimate role on the path to election in American politics. The numerous campaign speeches that a candidate will give on the campain trail all prepare the hopeful for his most important campaign speech: the speech at his or her own national convention. Campaign and convention speeches have always played a huge part in history- whether that is because of the actual content on the environment in which it took place. An example of each is included below.

In 1956 Democratic party nominee Adlai Stevenson gave an exceptional speech at the Democratic National Convention outlining his hope for the party and the coming years. He embodied old school tradition (he was once pictured working wearing worn out shoes, something that would never happen with today’s politicians), and he served as an intellectual bridge between the 1930s New Deal and 1960s Great Society programs. A most famous quote of his is “Better we lose the election than mislead the people, and better we lose than misgovern the people”. His ideal presidency was presented as one of hard labor, as his Puritan ideals gave him the ideology that suffering and endurance are equated with high ideals. Although the content of this speech is not as well known as it should be, Stevenson’s “A New America” speech could truly benefit today’s presidential candidates.

On the other hand, the environment of campaign speeches is crucial to success. In 1992, George H. W. Bush gave a speech at Penn State University and was introduced by popular football coach Joe Paterno. Because of the high profile university names associated with this campaign speech and the university’s banner hanging on stage, it seemed as if the university was endorsing Bush for president. This caused quite a problem for many Democratic students and alumni. After them pitching their case, the university restructured rules for future campaign stops and set a precedent for other universities who may face the same situation.

Political speechmaking is an important aspect of campaigning and any speech has the potential to change the future and how the American people see politics.


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