Friday, March 9, 2007

Welcome to the Bully Pulpit Series blog

We invite you to join our discussion on presidential communication and weigh in on what the candidates for U.S. President had to say during their recent visit to the College of Charleston.


Brian McGee said...

Senator McCain's Bully Pulpit appearance will give us a chance to learn about his thoughts on the role played by the President in communicating with the public. Please let us know your questions and concerns as we prepare for Senator McCain's visit.

Brian McGee, Chair
Department of Communication
College of Charleston

Mandy said...

It's a common cliche that "communication is the key to any good relationship." Could this also pertain to the relationship between the President and the people of the United States? I'd argue yes. Without the communication part, American citizens would rapidly lose any power they held at all in Washington. Therefore, as this election cycle rolls around it will be interesting to discover just how these potential candidates for the Unitded States of America plan to keep us, the generally underinformed citizens, tuned into what's going on in our country.

First up we have Senator John McCain. A representative from his campaign came by our class, Political Campaigns with Dr. Alston, last week to share a little bit about how the Senator manages his campaign communication. During her talk she boasted that the McCain campaign is one of the best organized in the nation. If McCain can get off on the right foot with campaign communication, communicating with a public he's already won (should he become President) would be a breeze, right? With the fickle personality that's indicative of the people of the United States, I'm not so sure.

I look forward to hearing the Senator's remarks on communicating with such a tough crowd, aka the Nation, during a time when communication is instantaneous and people aren't afraid to respond with their own valued opinions. Unfortunately, there's about 300 million citizens, persumably each one who's old enough to speak with an option, and one President of the U.S. All you can say to that is: "Good luck, Mr./Mrs. President and I look forward to communicating with you."

Mandy Manoski
Senior Comm Major
College of Charleston

allison said...

One thing we’ve been focusing a lot on in my War and Peace Political Science course at Augustana College is the idea that there is a great danger in ignoring the historical relationships America has had between other countries (specifically those in the Middle East). I guess I am just wondering how John McCain plans to reflect on past U.S. involvement in countries such as Iraq and Iran, specifically regarding the oil threat, in order to create a future relationship that is more stable and secure. This is where I think better communication between world leaders as well as civilians could truly be beneficial. In McCain’s announcement speech he states that "Our dependence on foreign sources of energy not only harms our environment and economy, it endangers our security. So much of the oil we import comes from countries in volatile regions of the world where our values aren't shared and our interests aren't a priority.” He goes on to promise that “I'll travel across the country offering my ideas about how we should address [challenges] and listening to the concerns and advice of Americans.” Whereas this is a nice gesture, my problem lies in the fact that McCain recognizes that there is a communication gap between different cultures (in terms of values and foreign interests), but only promises to travel across our country to close this gap domestically. What is McCain’s approach to foreign communication, how does he purport to solve the greatest challenges we face overseas? I suppose we will have to wait to find out!

John said...
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John said...

I'm looking forward to Senator McCain's talk tomorrow. I've always admired that he is very open and honest. He's a straight-shooter, and I appreciate that. However, I wonder whether he would use more discretion in his rhetoric when it comes closer to election time, should he get his party's nomination. Will he continue to ride the "Straight Talk Express" when he becomes president? I'm interested to see.

As Mandy said previously, a representative from his campaign claimed that his is one of the best organized out there right now. I wonder how much the campaign reflects the man. What tools and types of communication does Senator McCain believe are most effective? Which ones do personally invest most of his time in?

What my major concern or question with Sen. McCain is, how will he distinguish himself from the current administration? The current administration has had its communication troubles, with a president who has trouble with giving speeches and press secretaries who buckle under pressure. Will Sen. McCain do anything different?

It seems as if everybody, even the Republican candidates are trying to put as much distance between the Bush Whitehouse and themselves, especially with the unpopular war in Iraq. Senator McCain has been openly for staying in Iraq, does he believe that will hurt him, or is he depending on the 30% of America that still supports the war to help him.

President Bush, it is said, is an interpersonal genius. One on one he's amazing, making a person feel like you're his best friend. Unfortunately that does not translate to television, or any other medium. I'm interested in what sort of interpersonal skills Sen. McCain has, and if he thinks that it is a strength.

Once again, I look forward to Senator McCain's lecture, and hope to learn a lot from him.

John Martin
Senior Communications Major
College of Charleston

Tom said...
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Tom said...
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Tom said...

First let me congratulate all of the students who have posted here already. Your comments are informed, thoughtful, balanced and insightful. I wish we heard more of this kind of dialogue in the national media, which all too often focuses on cardboard cutouts of the candidates. I hope that Senator McCain will address the kinds of questions you are posing. I don't agree with all of his positions and I am personally very much undecided on the candidates. But I have felt that McCain is more honest and open in his comments than others have been. We'll see how that plays out on the national stage, but his poll numbers are rising. I think it is interesting to see how his campaign plays against Thompson and Giuliani, both of whom are much more media savvy. I look forward to the discussion.

Tom Martin
Department of Communication
The College of Charleston

October 3, 2007

Maude said...

What I'm interested in most in talking to someone like Senator Mccain is the evolution of communication tactics in Political campaigning throughout the years. Clearly this is not the Senator's first time running for president, and with experience in doing so in 2000, 2004, and now 2008--I'm keen to hear how the importance of utilizing different outlets of communication have wavered, especially with the introduction of "new media" (Blogs, Facebook, MySpace, etc...) in more recent years. How much involement do the candidates actually have with these outlets? What kind of outlets are becoming less effective on the campaign trail as technology progresses?

Going along with that, after so many years campaining, has Sentator McCain developed an automatic filter for what can be considered "good" and "bad" communication techniques and positions? The "straight-talk" express is a slogan that is associated with him--but how much thought really goes into comments before they are made. Over the weekend the Senator made comments in an interview with Beliefnet to the nature that he doesn't think a Muslim could ever be president in the United States because we are a nation founded primarily on Christian values. Almost immediately after making these comments though, the Senator made sure to assert that he wouldn't rule the possibility out however, and that there are a lot of good principles in Islam. Is it an inherent response to overthink answers and make sure your responses don't offend anyone? I wonder about the thought process that occurs while answering such questions.

steven cody said...

Great comments and observations. I hope the senator addresses "controlled news" in tonight's remarks. It seems to me the White House has become more and more adept at controlling the news cycle and limiting access to favored journalists (i.e. Cheney's love affair with Fox News). Will McCain do the same?

Steve Klien said...

Thanks to all the bloggers so far for making great observations!

I've noticed in today's news that Senator McCain has planned to make a statement regarding Senator Clinton's stance on Iraq, and a broader problem with "triangulation" as a political strategy. I'm wondering about two things:

First, how might the Bully Pulpit audience react to the use of a forum on "presidential communication" as an opportunity to attack another candidate on a policy issue?

Secondly, "triangulation" is interesting to consider not just as a political policy tactic, but as a communication strategy for governing. Is it mere "politics," or does the concept have some substantive civic merit?

Hope tonight goes well!

John said...

Once again, I’m very excited about hearing what Senator McCain has to say.

The program states that in the Bully Pulpit Series “Candidates speak with students and Charleston community members on such topics as frequency of press conferences, the candidate’s relationship with journalists, and the power of the president to persuade.”
I wonder if, when the town-hall question and answer session begins, the focus shifts to purely politics.

After hee switched to the handheld mike, he seems lot more comfortable with the handheld. He’s very relaxed walking around on stage, he seems like he’s just one of the guys.

Humor seems to be one of his strongpoints.

Role of president in communicating according to McCain.
Admires two people JFK and Reagan, they were like your neighbor.
JFK had weekly press conferences and a great sense of humor.
Reagan had nation’s priorities at the front.
Admires speeches of Reagan. He admits that some of it is stagecraft, but Reagan was real.
Interesting choices. Illustrates his moderate views.

McCain says can’t fool American people. Not sure I agree with him. I think that he’s fundamentally wrong, I feel like we have been fooled before, and it can happen again.

Would have a press conference once a week. I think that would be beneficial in helping keep the President in check.

Would go on CSPAN once a week and give a detailed briefing of the war in Iraq. Interesting because of his view in what we should do in Iraq.

Goes on as many programs that young people watch. Goes on the Daily Show often. I was wondering if he was going to mention his Daily Show stints. He is one of the most entertaining guests Jon Stewart has.
“You must go to where the people are.” Finally, a candidate who gets that.

He goes to the Bloggers once a week. Interesting, I wonder if he is going to talk to me personally later.

Young people expect to be a part of the national political scene is what he says, which is why he does so many of these avenues. It’s interesting to see a candidate that feels that young people are important. Not many candidates take the time to reach out to young people, as young people don’t vote. I like his view on young people.

He goes into why the Republican party is in disarray. He truly is a “maverick.” He criticizes his own party and makes sure it is known that he doesn’t agree with everything that they do. With the bad feelings that a lot of people have towards the Republican party, it is important for him to separate himself from those currently in power.

He finally drops the name of another candidate, he criticizes Hilary Clinton for not voting for McCain-Fiengold Bill.

He wants to leave Iraq, but wants to leave with honor.
I’m not sure what that means, or if that’s possible.
“Presidents don’t lose wars, political parties don’t lose wars, but nations lose wars.” Very true, but can we salvage what has happened in Iraq.

He addresses that his support for Patreus and staying in Iraq will politically hurt him. He says he doesn’t know whether that’s true. I’m pretty sure that it is true.

He seems very comfortable and confident answering the questions and speaking off the cuff. In fact, he’s very good at it. He hasn’t stumbled or backtracked with anything he’s said.

What is interesting to me is that he is actually answering the questions that are asked and not just twisting the question and directing it back to what he wants to say. I think that we don’t often see this type of honesty from a lot of candidates.

In responding to a question about his implying that a Christian to be an effective president he does a great job of iterating that he believes that the country is founded on Judeo-Christian values. Good way of apologizing without actually apologizing.

After thirty minutes he finally admits a failure of President Bush, saying that we needed more troops. Had he been a Democrat, I imagine it would have taken five minutes. This is the first time he’s tried to separate himself from the current administration.

“That’s a Ralph Nader shirt. Keep hope alive.” Like I said, humor is one of his strong points. “That shirt is going to be very valuable some day.”

One thing that I find interesting is that he doesn’t use many stalling tactics to think of his answers. I think it is obvious that he’s answered questions so many times that he doesn’t even have to think about it. I wonder if he’s going to hear a question tonight that he hasn’t heard before.

Lowering the drinking age question seems to put him on the spot. Honestly he says that he’s divided on that question. Says you can fight and die, but can’t drink. Admits that he’s going to cop out and leave it up to the states. I don’t think it’s a cop out, it’s the right answer.

He gave the floor to a representative of the one campaign. He is very complimentary of the One Campaign. I hope that, as President, he would put a great focus on alleviating global poverty and AIDS. He says that he would help Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in Africa. I would hope that he takes the lead as president.

Says that the current strategy in Iraq is working. The surge strategy, he is essentially saying, although very unpopular, is actually effective.

“It’s not American presence in Iraq that bothers people, its American casualties.”
I think he’s partly correct, though nobody has ever said it this way. It’s a very different way to look at the problem.

I appreciate his candor, stating that he personally hasn’t done enough to help the environment.

When he calls the kid a “smart-ass” it exemplifies how much of a straight-shooter he is. He doesn’t care, and I like that about him. He’s just one of the guys.

He takes criticism is very well. He doesn’t seem to get flustered or even upset. But I guess that’s how you roll when you’ve been doing this as long as he has.

He’s a pro. He’s a much better public speaker than I thought he was. In fact he’s one of the most competent speakers I’ve seen.

What is the most effective way to communicate with the people?
You’ve got to find where the American people are going from and go there. He didn’t exactly answer the question, but he’s right. This is the first question that he hasn’t answer with a straightforward response.

John Martin
Senior Communication Major
College of Charleston

carrie.lizabeth said...

I'd like to quickly comment on John's assertion about whether the American people are susceptible to deception.

"McCain says can’t fool American people. Not sure I agree with him. I think that he’s fundamentally wrong, I feel like we have been fooled before, and it can happen again."

I agree with John. We are very susceptible. However, I'd like to expound on the idea of sincerity in communication.
More and more the message of all my professors about the cross-referential nature of a liberal arts education is hitting home. (Not that I didn't believe them, but they're also always telling us to find things out through our own experiences) Anyway, my point is that in my philosophy class, we've talked quite a bit about the nature of truth, and how sincerity is crucial to the sustenance of communication. We, the people, not only are able to be fooled, but we usually expect attempts at it. Our political culture is notoriously skeptical, at least from the inside. I think part of the way that communication has changed over time is that we expect, and as a result, demand, less sincerity. Sincerity is to be, according to Michael P. Lynch, disposed to say what you believe, with the intention not to mislead. In other words, speaking what you know to be the truth. Not surprisingly, in his examples of insincerity, Lynch uses politicians as his first instance. I think when speaking of political communication, it's very necessary to examine just how valuable it can be when we doubt every bit of it. That's not to say that this communication isn't crucial. I believe we need to discuss how to resolve our problem of skepticism and insincerity.

Carrie Clark
Senior Political Science/Philosophy

Mandy said...

Unfortunately, the wireless is down in the auditorium where Sen. McCain will be speaking but I’ll be posting my thoughts as soon as I get to the internet…

When the representative from McCain’s campaign came to class she told us it was key for them to get people to “listen to his stories.” Sure enough, how’d the Senator open? …With a story about the importance of being a mayor. Humbling himself immediately, Senator McCain put himself on our level.

McCain is impresses me. He seems to value the importance of young Americans. He seems to understand the importance of going on shows that the younger generations watch. He seems to understand we want to play a part in the Presidential-Citizen communication; it shouldn’t be a one way street.

Not all communication is spoken. It’s interesting tonight to note that the Senator doesn’t wear the traditional flag lapel pin or the “power-red” tie so indicative of the Republican Party. He hasn’t stood behind the podium at all, but walked with ease from one side of the stage to the other. Occasionally, he’ll lean against the side of the podium while speaking in a manner which makes him appear very comfortable being here with us. And he has the ability to make us laugh. Those things count for something.

Mandy Manoski

Mary Catherine said...

The Bully Pulpit Event this past Wednesday was very informative, and I felt very privileged to be a part of the event. Kudos to the Department of Communication for sponsoring the event and doing tireless work to make it even possible for CofC students and faculty as well as the community to attend!

I agree with John's assessment that McCain did seem very at ease speaking.. and he had just the right amount of humor to keep at least this audience member entertained. Oftentimes political celebrities seem much larger than life, and it was incredible to see McCain as just another human being (despite the big bus and security detail!)

I thought that McCain handled the questions with relative ease. In an event like this despite the fact that it was supposed to be more about presidential communication, the majority of the questions revolved around political policy and such. Even so, McCain took those questions into stride and gave rather straightforward answers. I was very impressed with the answers to the few communication questions asked. The questions and answers were insightful and I appreciated McCain's candid comments throughout the presentation.

To this end, I can't wait for the next Bully Pulpit event. Both fun and informative, the events are great opportunities for students (and the public) to become more involved with Decision '08; and again, I applaud Dr. McGee, the Department of Communication and the Communication Advisory Council for their efforts in bringing the Bully Pulpit to the College of Charleston.

Mary Catherine Kennedy
Senior Communication Major
College of Charleston

John Jordan said...

It is Friday afternoon and Dr. Brian McGee has just joined us from the College of Charleston to participate in Augustana College’s Bully Pulpit event.

As the afternoon gets started, I’m glad to see the evening start off with introductions. While we are all from similar backgrounds, our differences (education majors, history majors, political science, and speech communication) are going to make the afternoon’s conversation very interesting.

Dr. McGee explained a very important component to Bully Pulpit that I had not considered: conducting the program during the primaries. Gaining a better understanding of a candidate’s communication priorities and commitments prior to election time will help me personally as an influential voter.

Having our event two days after the College of Charleston adds an interesting dynamic to our event this afternoon. While I’ll admit my feelings of jealousy, I think being separate from the event allows for a more critical analysis.

The following comments will be reactions to the Senator McCain’s speech:

In a surprising rhetorical strategy, McCain uses is the word use of “we” when he talks about Congress’s out of control spending. Usually, in order to save their “ethos,” speakers distance themselves from the wrong actions of others by using the word “they” – even if they were involved in the action. For example, people will use “we” to associate themselves with “positives” like a winning sports team and “they” when that same team is losing. This is pretty admirable of McCain to admit and associate himself with this action, though it makes him a little vulnerable.

Senator McCain knows his audience. His use of humor on progressively more serious issues as the event progresses is well done (for the most part). Not only does this rhetorical move demonstrate his knowledge, but also by explicitly addressing the media where he wants to reach the young voters.

One of my personal interests was Senator McCain’s nonverbal communication. While I will not realistically be able to analyze his non-verbal behaviors in real time, I notice firm hand gestures and he is very mobile. To me, these “healthy” gestures are reassuring because of McCain’s age and experience. On the other hand, I notice him leaning on the podium, sweating, and burping throughout the event. While these gestures may seem negative, perhaps they construe a message of humanism. He seems very “real” when responding to questioning. Sometimes he may stammer or start a sentence over, which some may think were weaknesses, but I think if all his answers were rehearsed, I wouldn’t believe him.

In a smart rhetorical move, McCain continues to associate himself with positively perceived historical figures (i.e. Lincoln, Reagan, & Kennedy).

My comments from this point forth will be based on our group discussion following the viewing of the speech:

The initial conversation seems to be focused around money as speech. Is money speech or is it not? Is money Truth? Or is money a means of access? Why doesn’t McCain engage in the money as speech debate? Does this relate the problem he addresses with the out of control spending?

I’m very compelled with the following conversation that develops at our Augustana event regarding perspective. Realistically, a variety of audiences will not watch, let alone pay attention to McCain’s entire speech. I’m considering the discrepancy between McCain’s testaments regarding the drinking age during the speech and how he “clarified” his position in the following press conference. The perceptions of McCain could be very different if individuals viewed one testament or the other.

I’m looking forward to future events (hopefully)!


John Jordan
Senior Speech Communication Major
Augustana College

John Jordan said...

This week Augustana students discussed Congressman Ron Paul’s speech at the College of Charleston. I felt that this event was noticeably different than the McCain event held back in October for a few reasons: students were more comfortable discussing their opinions the second time around, the Iowa primary is right around the corner, and unlike McCain, Paul is not seen as a top candidate.

While watching Congressman Paul’s speech (that unfortunately did not focus on many Bully Pulpit issues), I was intrigued by his thoughts regarding Internet communication. Paul acknowledged the power of the Internet as a means of communicating with the American people and even mentions that those using the Internet are more sophisticated.

Watching Congressman Paul speak, I noted his interesting communication style. Paul spoke very informally using words like “silly,” used loose and exaggerated hand gestures. While I personally thought Paul was a little too informal, I thought he did a great job establishing his credibility by associating his views on Liberty with those of Ben Franklin. I thought Paul spoke very clearly, used examples to articulate his points, and demonstrated that he knew his audience. I thought it was smart for Paul to start a few sentences stating “I’m impressed with young people because.” I think this strategy will strengthen his appeal to the young voters.

Following the viewing, the Augustana Bully Pulpit Scholars, met to discuss Congressman Paul’s address. Highlights of the discussion included comments regarding Paul’s commitments to improving presidential communication (Internet communication, emphasizing his message through actions, and avoiding “staged” press conferences). Paul’s idea of letting his actions speak for themselves is a nice idea, but students seemed to wonder if this would take too long and whether his constituents would be able to hold him accountable without more frequent communication. While we all seemed to appreciate the idea of Paul not holding staged events, their seemed to be a disconnect with his proposal to use more Internet communication. It seems as though the Internet would allow for the greatest “staging.” I would be interested in hearing what other students believe about the idea of no staged events. Are some staged events better than others?

Sarah said...

While I am disappointed to learn that Senator Obama will not be taking questions during his event, I am eager to see what topics in political communication he feels are important to address. Particularly in Ron Paul's address, very little was said about political communication and the posed questions in this area seemed to go largely unanswered. Perhaps we will be able to get a better view of what Senator Obama's beliefs about communication are in allowing him to address them himself.

Sarah Burnworth
Augustana College

cofcparent said...

Your blogs on the past candidates' visit to the college only strengthened my disappointment in Senator Obamas visit today.
He gave a wonderful upbeat speech with alot of talk about change.What was lacking was any explanation of how he would enact those changes. Senator Kerry's surprise visit was also very exciting, but again his speech left me feeling as though I was at a Pep-Rally not a Political Series where the local community and students of the college were able to actually ask questions or learn anything new about this candidate. It was a wonderful event, but I really didn't feel like any true issues were actually addressed. Great Job on the speechwriting though! Very impressed by Obama's abilitiy to get a crowd roaring with his "Yes! We can!" chant!

Molly said...

I'm beginning to wonder why candidates conveniently forget they're at an event for the discussion of "political communication" I understand that they're campaigning still, however, the people attending this event are obviously interested in political communication, and will probably vote. Don't you think that it sends a poor message to these people expecting you to talk about the one thing, and then they skirt the issue?

Molly Jackson
Augustana College

Heather Holland said...

I'm very excited for tomorrow's Augustana viewing and conversation on Senator Obama's visit to Charleston. I'm interested to observe what others have noted on this blog concerning Obama not discussing political communication during the speech very much. While it is understandable that the candidates want to discuss their platforms rather than communication alone (since this is primary season!), it also disappoints me because it would be excellent to get some more dialogue going about this important topic. However, I'm sure there will be plenty for us to discuss, as many of us here are quite familiar with Obama as a candidate.

Heather Holland
Junior Speech Communication/English Major
Augustana College

Tom said...

United State’s Senator Barack Obama

Bully Pulpit Powers of the President

The time has come for a President to be honest. To tell us not just what we want to know but what we need to know

Restore our moral standing

Lead the world not just militarily, but diplomatically


We not as divided as our politics suggest we are

Because of the primaries and caucuses which are coming up so quickly in Nevada, South Carolina, and all the February 5th States there has been a change in the format of the Bully Pit Scholar. The campaigns have to move quickly and they need to build momentum, the time for personal politics might be over as the political stage becomes more national.

Different campaign dynamic. Different crowd both size and demographics

John Kerry

A superb talent to communicate our ideals to the rest of the world

Lead a transformation not just a transition

Brings important, while seemingly not typical experience, to the White House that will serve us well

Jefferson was just 33 when he wrote the Declaration of Independence

MLK 26 Montgomery buss boycott, 36 spoke in Washington
Measure the character!

A leader who knows how to listen. A statesmen that realizes even the most powerful nation in the planet needs to make some

Good statesmen that sees other nations and leaders not just through American eyes but as they see themselves.

He will always tell the truth to the American people. Not just what we want to hear but what we need to hear. This is a break from our current politics that I feel many would take as a breath of fresh air. It’s ok to have a difference of opinion, its better to be told the truth than a dangerous

Our moral authority doesn’t limit us, but magnifies what we can do

The only charge that rings is the one that tells you not to hope for a better America

Washington DC isn’t the only teacher, and in recent years it hasn’t been the best teacher.

He has the best ability to unit Americans in the cause

He wants to end negative ads which say what others can’t do instead of what we can do

History gives us moments

Barack Obama

When the woman yelled out we love you and he said back I love you back

Humor and kindness will take this man far.

He said John Kerry was a man whose life story helps him understand the change we need in America. The talk he gave about John Kerry was powerful, it provided a man who was shattered by the intense politics of 2004 redemption

Communication can be more than words. At this event the Obama campaign did an exceptional job at communicating the sense of a movement happening. Watching the video one can see a vision of a united America. One can see what Barack so often calls the fierce urgency of now in the eyes of the African American women crying in the background and the college girl so excited she can barely keep her sign down for a moment.

He said that it wasn’t enough to just have fancy rhetoric. There was a need for action.

Inclusive rhetoric. Senator Obama doesn’t focus on himself, but what we can do. How we can change the world for the better. He knows that there is something happening beyond himself. It shows a natural humility that adds to his accessibility.

We should never negotiate out of fear, but we should never fear to negotiate. He is making a comparative statement between him and his rival politicians. He said it’s not naive but responsible to talk with our enemies.

Straight talk over spin.

He comically said how everyone is now on the change bandwagon. He said that’s ok. The difference between him and others though is that for him its not just campaign rhetoric, but a way of life. Change is his reason for living, for running for president.

The parallel repetition. Homiletic tradition. Yes we can. It is incredibly powerful. Its simplicity is an asset. It is something for voters to grab on to and believe in. It is not hard to think back to other figures who have used the technique in the past, men like JFK, Martin Luther King and begin to make a connection between the three men.

Like so many other elements of his campaign, being to black or not being black enough, Barack Obama has to walk a very fine line with his seemingly iconic status. Is he all fluff, all rhetoric. The answer is certainly something more than that, but many cynics would like to down play him by focusing on his mass appeal.

Many within our group are quick to judge Senator Obama for the lack of focus on political rhetoric, but we need to ask certain questions. Did the Obama campaign mislead the advisory board of the Bully Pit Scholars? Did he say he would say one thing and do another? If he was honest

John Jordan said...

As we prepare for our final Bully Pulpit event at Augustana, I look forward to hearing the discussion following Senator John Edward’s speech. I think now that we Augustana Students all have experience analyzing the speeches of a few candidates, we are prone to a great discussion here at Augustana College.

***Video Comments***

It is very interesting watching this event knowing what happens in the South Carolina Primary the next day.

Senator Edwards definitely focuses on establishing a connection with his audience and relating to their beliefs as a former South Carolina resident.

I thought it was interesting how he singles out other candidates (universal health care), rather than spending that time explaining his own policy.

I felt that Senator Edwards over-used the “When I’m President” rather than “If I am President” throughout his speech. Perhaps it is just late enough in the campaign where the candidates make small changes in their vocabulary such as this.

Although he did not focus on the issues of the Bully Pulpit, I thought he did touch on communicating with South Carolina (and America) to build people up and unite the country. I would have liked to hear more about how he would do this.

***Discussion Comments***

There was a general disappointment surrounding the lack of communication issues being addressed in the Edwards speech.

It was very interesting in the way that Senator Edwards compared himself with the other candidates. Is it easier for Edwards to say he’s “above it all” while he is so far behind the other candidates? How is his lack of debate engagements with the other candidates perceived by the public? Does it make him look weak? If historically, Americans don’t like negative attacks, why does it still happen? What types of “attacks” are ok in a campaign or in a debate? Perhaps having reputable content in these messages is key. Perhaps the relevance and timing of the attack is what is important.

The way that issues are framed by candidates and their campaign teams is interesting and was a topic of discussion tonight. For example the timing of TV ads, facts that are used in debate, or the way poll results can be distorted.

Tonight, the question was raised regarding Edwards decision to remain in the campaign regardless of his recent misfortunes in SC and other primaries. Perhaps it is getting the 2000 delegates at the convention and Edward’s ability to help out another candidate down the road and being a “kingmaker.”

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