Tuesday, March 24, 2015

If Tweets & Soundbites Rule, Do Speeches Matter?

When voters follow candidates and causes via media soundbites, a few lines of tweeted text or a mobile phone headline, does the old-fashioned stump speech even matter anymore? It's a question recently posed in an article in The National Journal, which noted that leading Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush didn't even give a speech at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference. Bush also has been notably "uninspired" in delivering big addresses so far this year, the article points out. Yet Jeb Bush is still confident he can meet an ambitious fundraising goal of $100 million in the first three months of the year. So why bother with scripted oratory? The National Journal asked pundits what purpose rousing campaign rhetoric still serves, and the experts cited four reasons to speechify. First, campaign speeches help gain donors. Traditionally, if donors see that a candidate can galvanize a crowd, they are more likely to offer support. Second, the discipline of creating cohesive arguments with advisors and staff is crucial to the internal campaign process, helping create a harmonious platform--and team. Third, speeches let a campaign set the public narrative, as President Obama did in 2008 with his rhetoric of hope and "change we can believe in." Finally, a great speech can simply win votes. Jon Lovett, a former Obama speechwriter, summed up, "A great speech can make you remember something about what you believe, about who you are, about who you want to be. It's rare when that kind of thing happens. But it is important, and it is real." For the whole article, go to http://www.nationaljournal.com/twenty-sixteen/the-decreasing-relevance-of-the-campaign-speech-20150304

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