Visual Rhetoric – Fall 2008 Rotating Header Image

Sen. McCain’s Acceptance Speech @ RNC – Sept. 4, 2008

What a difference a week makes. As big a deal as Barack Obama’s acceptance speech was last week, the selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as Sen. McCain’s running mate has dominated the news cycle. From the news that her 17 year old daughter is 5 months pregnant, to coverage of the ‘troopergate’ scandal, and what Gov. Palin’s role might have been in the Alaska Independence Party, the introduction of the Republican VP candidate has piqued the public’s interest. More than 37 million viewers watched Gov. Palin give her acceptance speech last night- just a million fewer than watched Obama the week before. In case you missed it, here are some highlights:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/Om2gNE48gDI" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Of course, the top of the ticket, Sen. John McCain, accepted his party’s nomination tonight. Here is a video copy of the speech:

You can also find the interactive video/transcript on the New York Times page. For this blog entry, outline what you think was the most important argument laid out by Sen. McCain, why you think it is so important, how you think Sen. Obama could respond, and what audience Sen. McCain was speaking to with that argument (not just the general audience- what group of voters would he expect to find that argument appealing). Finally, how effective was the speech, and why?

19 Comments

  1. bcoon6zj says:

    The most important argument that Senator McCain had in last night’s speech was about fighting corruption and getting money to the people that need it. He said that he has fought big spenders and will continue to do so by vetoing bills that put money in places that do not help American citizens. This issue is important because like Sen. McCain said some people are having trouble making ends meet and feeding their families in the current economy.

    Senator Obama also talked about helping the people who are finding it difficult to feed their familes. He used gas prices as the basis of his argument and could respond to McCain saying that his tatics will not help the people who really need it.

    Senator McCain was speaking to the middle and working classes. He probably was trying to reach out to people who would not normally vote for a Republican.

    I was not as impressed with this speech as I was with Senator Obama’s. Sen. Obama seemed to be a better speaker and was able to keep my attention better than Sen. McCain did. The audience was more distracting than helpful in this situation. The constant noise and interruptions made me lose interest in what he had to say. He also looked at the camera most of the time and when he didn’t he fumbled his words. I also felt that the screen behind him was not helpful. I did like that he was out in the middle of the crowd, I could not tell in Sen. Obama’s speech whether he did the same thing or not. Senator McCain’s weird smirk and comments after the woman interrupted his speech left me annoyed. Overall I was not impressed and thought that the speech could have been better.

    Brittany Cooney

  2. Alicia Grolbert says:

    Senator McCain’s most important argument during his acceptance speech was his experience versus Senator Obama’s inexperience. Senator McCain discussed his great number of years in the Senate where he helps write bills and plays an active role. He compared his numerous years as an active member of the senate to Senator Obama’s few years of little participation in the senate. Senator McCain discussed his experience as a prisoner of war and his knowledge of the world. This argument was the most important because it shows America that Senator McCain knows what he is doing and it gives him an advantage over Senator Obama. Senator Obama could respond with an argument that because he is not as experienced as Senator McCain he could bring new ideas to Washington. Senator McCain’s speech was targeted toward those who support him and those who didn’t know much about him because he spoke a lot about himself. I found the speech affective, but not as affective as Governor Palin’s speech. I think the combination of the two speeches made the convention a success.

  3. queenmab182 says:

    The most important argument laid out by Sen. McCain in this speech is how he is almost an independent. He is a Maverick. He votes and makes decisions, not based upon party lines, but what he feels is best for our country, for our citizens and for our troops. He doesn’t go with the popular trends, but stands up for what he feels is the best and most effective choice. This argument is the most important because, although he respectfully thanked and complimented our current president, who is in the same party, he does distance himself from a party that is currently unpopular to be a part of. This way, it is as he is on his own. He does sometimes align with his party, with it’s beliefs, but on the whole he makes up his own mind and does what he thinks is good for the people, not for the party. This could help him to gain more votes since many people are disenchanted with how the Republicans are running the government. Also, this works to respond to Obama’s comment that McCain being president will only mean “four more years of the last eight” and is a great response to the “eight is enough” statement in Obama’s speech. McCain is separating himself from being like Bush or the party Bush is a part of.
    Obama could respond by commenting on the fact that much of McCain’s speech is about him having to defend and build himself up to the people, instead of addressing most of the issues. Perhaps he could make the claim that obviously McCain is so unpopular that he feels the pressure himself and has to work even harder to convince people to vote for him, instead of working on the issues that our country faces.
    McCain seemed to be trying to talk to the general public, but did seem to focus on those who were down on their luck and facing difficult times. He seemed to be speaking to people who are poor, out of work, looking for work, or just having medical or other issues, and are having a hard time making ends meet. It seemed he was trying to sympathize with ‘the little guy’ and say that he wouldn’t forget them in Washington, but that he would fight to improve everyone’s quality of life.
    The speech wasn’t too effective. Visually it was a mess. McCain looked old, and in tight screen shots you didn’t know what the background was. It was just blurred and often an ugly color that sharply contrasted with his figure. He himself looked poor, in my opinion. I couldn’t look away from his flapping neck skin. I did like that he looked more forward, however, and that he used good intonations when speaking to the crowd directly, it drew you in more. He seemed a little too grandfatherly overall though for my liking. His speech itself was a bit too much of trying to defend himself: of thanking people, of trying to dissociate himself from his party while not offending anyone. Too much fluff. All these elements work against him, even though his expectations were low, in comparison to Obama’s well delivered and moving speech.

  4. Emma says:

    McCain’s most important argument in his acceptance speech was his focus on his experience, both in Congress and in the military. Early on, McCain lists many of the causes he has fought for and against while in the Senate, including corruption in government and his involvement in the strategies in the Iraq war. I think the theme of his record and experience was a theme throughout the speech, and may be considered a response to Obama’s acceptance speech, as Obama does not have a very long record or as much experience in public office and therefore promises change, while I think here, McCain is trying to show proof of his commitment to change and progress. I think a particular example of McCain’s experience directly influencing his political policy is when he talked about not liking war and how he knows how bad it is, reassuring America that his number one goal was keeping all American families safe and not sending them off to war. The audience knows he is serious here because of his experiences as a soldier and POW in the Vietnam war – he can really relate to the American people’s concern about the Iraq war.

    I think that McCain’s experience is such an important argument because is addressed the issue of experience (McCain) versus change (Obama). It was important for McCain to showcase his accomplishments as a Senator and war veteran because those are qualifications and experiences his opponent cannot draw from. The experience also allows McCain to tell the American people that he has fought for many issues and gotten results in areas that concern Americans today.

    I think Obama will respond by continuing to respect McCain’s military service but also emphasizing the need for change to come to Washington, a new perspective and fresh ideas that only he can bring, as a young outsider. He may also talk about issues that McCain has failed to address in his career in the Senate or maybe talk about unpopular measures that McCain supported. By and large, I think McCain’s experience and Obama’s newcomer status has been an issue throughout the summer and will continue in a very similar fashion until the election.

    The general audience for this argument is probably Americans on the fence. Hearing about McCain’s record and experience may sway them to McCain’s side. Also, those American’s against the war in Iraq or worried about our national security may be assured by McCain’s direct experiences with war and tough decision making.

    Overall, I think McCain’s speech was effective, though in very different ways than Obama’s was. While rocky in the beginning, it seemed that McCain picked up steam by the end and the excitement seemed to build also. I think the speech showed that McCain is very real and genuine. Here is a guy regular Americans can relate to. His language is simple and direct, but his passion for America and the American people really shone through. I think it was effective because McCain came across as a different kind of candidate than Obama; McCain showed that he is not showy, not very suave and he is not into spouting flowy rhetoric. Like most of America, he is not wonderful at public speaking. But I think that is what actually made his speech very effective (the opposite of what made Obama’s effective). I think that the qualities McCain displayed will resonate with many Americans. He was particularly strong and endearing during his narrative about his time as a POW – he showed his modesty and his love for America. While not perfect or by any means as good as Obama’s speech, I think McCain left a favorable and likable impression overall.

  5. Caitlin Mackay says:

    I think the most important argument in McCain’s speech was that he is an experienced fighter who will fight for “us”. All throughout the speech, McCain gave examples of his experience as a fighter: he fought for peace and increased military presence in Iraq, against corruption and big spenders,and he was a fighter as a POW. It was important to give these examples and to stress that he is a fighter in order to highlight his experience and love of country. These examples of him as a fighter were meant to indicate to the audience that he intends to fight for what Americans deserve and want. In addition to his audience being the general public, McCain tried to aim his speech at Americans who want something more for their lives and for their country. In effect, McCain spoke to working- class Americans and Americans who can relate to his experience, especially military experience.
    In response to this argument, Obama might point out McCain’s affiliation with the Republican party, and especially Bush. In addition, Obama might argue that he fully qualified to lead Americans toward change.
    Overall, I found the speech only somewhat effective. McCain did a good job of presenting his general policies and ideas for change. However, in terms of the visual rhetoric, McCain was not effective. The background was not pleasing for a TV audience and he had little control over the audience. The constant chanting and interruptions limited the effectiveness of the speech.

  6. Sadie Hagberg says:

    While watching McCain’s speech I thought his most important argument was his take on health care and the economy in general. Compared to everything else he talked about, he went into a bit more with these issues. I thought he might have more to say about Iraq, but when going back and reading over the transcript it seemed that he didn’t really say too much..

    The state of the economy is clearly a very important issue in this election to both of the candidates and the voters. The current economy has had different kinds of effects on people, but because it is something that has touched everyone, people feel that its an important issue and we can see that in both the candidates speeches. Also for this reason, the audience that McCain is speaking to is very large, which is an opportunity to gain support.

    McCain went into detail saying he would reduce government money and create new jobs. He also claims that his health care plan is going to make it easier to Americans to find and keep good coverage. In both these issues McCain brings up Obama’s plans, putting them side by side. This could certainly leave Obama room to respond back. In one particular place McCain says that Obama is simply going to “wish away” the global economy, which I feel could be an opportunity for Obama to respond, if he felt the need. I feel that anytime one candidate mentions another’s plan it opens up the floor for that candidate to respond. Obama could simply respond by explaining his plan in more detail or pointing out places where what McCain said maybe wasn’t fully the truth.

    Overall I felt the speech was mildly effective, especially in comparison to Obama. It was much harder to watch and pay attention to, and I found that I needed to read along with the transcript and go back to remind myself what he had said. And as we talked about in the class the visual wasn’t very appealing, and it started really bothering me.

  7. I found the background that McCain had in his speech very distracting. I wish I could explain why exactly I found it distracting, but it did. It made it very hard for me to keep my attention so I ended up reading along with the transcript. He also had very little control of the crowd which was distracting as well.
    His speech was mildly effective. It lacked the charisma (in my opinion) that Obama had when giving his speech. He based it on how much experience he has in politics and in life. I feel like he cannot use that argument anymore since the VP he chose has very little experience since she has only been a governor for three years.
    When the crowd began to chant and interrupt his speech, I thought he could have acted a little less obnoxious in response to that but then again, I was not in his position.
    This speech will touch a lot of people who have been in the military since he talked a lot about his time in Vietnam and being a prisoner of war and how much he loves his country. That part of his speech was very personal and I think a lot of people are going to see him more as a “human-being” and less of a politician because of that. That was a very good tactic on his part.
    He talked a lot about change, as did Obama. He wants to help get the economy back to being strong and make sure that employment is easier for the American people.
    I know that he cares a lot about the United States and wants to better it. For me personally, the speech wasn’t that effective in swaying my vote because I don’t think of him as someone who is genuine. Perhaps it is an age thing, but I can’t relate to his life experience and for a lot of college students, Obama seems easier to relate to.

  8. Casey Ridlon says:

    The most important argument Senator McCain made in the acceptance speech he gave Thursday night was his, as well as Governor Palin’s, level of experience. Throughout his speech he brought up a number of situations depicting his efforts and accomplishments in Washington. A large portion of his speech also focused on his service in the United State’s military and the time he spent as a prisoner of war.

    This argument is extremely important because it highlights Obama’s greatest flaw in this election. As far as I saw he never directly pointed out that he is more experienced than Senator Obama; however, through the examples he provided he was able to prove that he is very knowledgeable with regard to how things work in both Washington and the military.

    In response, I think Obama may continue to emphasize the fact that electing McCain would mean extension of the Bush years or administration. I think he could also respond by continuing to acknowledge and commend McCain’s service to the United States, but that he blind to America’s needs and just “doesn’t get it.”

    With regard to his audience, I believe McCain was addressing the average middle class American. Although he made some references to those who may be considered lower middle or lower class Americans, I think the issues were aimed at the middle class. It was also obvious that his speech appealed to military men and women.

    For me, McCain’s speech was effective. I thought he was very genuine and endearing. He comes across as a man who is true to what he believes and will “fight” for those beliefs. For others, I think the speech could have been very effective—especially with the dedication and love for America he expressed within the narrative he gave at the end. With this speech I believe he was able to gain more Americans’ trust and respect. However, delivery is very important to a speech’s effectiveness and when compared to Obama’s speech I’d have to say that McCain’s was less effective. He was unable to command the attention and control of the audience in the same way that Obama did. He was also somewhat awkward in his transitions between topics. Overall though I thought McCain did his best and spoke from his heart.

  9. avanv8sa says:

    I believe that the most important argument that McCain laid out in his speech was his experience versus Obama’s inexperience. McCain supporters have touted the fact that McCain has more years experience in Washington and in the military than Obama does, and for that reason they claim Obama won’t be able to present the change that he promises. In the speech, McCain does not directly say that he has more experience than Obama, but he tiptoes around the issue frequently throughout the speech. He provides specific examples of what he has done as a U.S senator and how he got it done. By talking about some of these issues in some detail, he is able to give voters something to point at and say “Look, he worked on this, and this, and this..” so voters will remember things that he has gotten done in Washington and believe that he can get even more done as president because of that background. He described himself as a fighter numerous times, and said that he wasn’t fighting for his party necessarily, but for what was best for the country because that’s what he cares about. He talked about reaching across party lines to get problems solved, and also added that Palin has done the same in her short time as Governor of Alaska. By mentioning this, he is trying to get democrats and independents to vote for him with the thought of him working with bipartisianship in mind.

    I think that Obama will respond to McCain’s argument of his experience by actually turning that around on McCain. He might do this by saying, yes he has been in Washington longer than I have, but is that the kind of person that you want AGAIN? Obama may claim that McCain’s experience may only mean more of the same politics that we have seen over the past eight years. Obama brings something new to the table, and could try and use the claims of inexperience to his advantage–he doesn’t have ties to other senators or lobbyists that he owes for something that happened years ago, so he could get things done and bring about the change that he preaches of. From Obama’s point of view, in order for a change to happen, you need a new kind of president who doesn’t have a lengthy history in Washington.

    Generally, I think that McCain was speaking to the middle class, average American. He, like Obama uses little stories of real Americans to try and show that he understands what the average American is going through on a daily basis. I think this is key because many of Obama’s plans would benefit the “average american” more than McCain’s. However, McCain chooses his words carefully and makes it seem as though he will take care of the things that the middle class American cares about just as well, if not better than Obama. I think by talking about his work in the military in such detail, he made a special call to people in the service as well.

    I think that this speech and Obama’s speech provide examples of what a really effective speaker can do with a room full of people and a not-so effective speaker can do. I didn’t find this speech to be as effective as Obama’s, however, I think a lot of that had to do with how McCain presented himself, not his issues. The background problems and protestors in the audience certainly did not help him. It became too distracting and I found it hard to pay attention. I also didn’t like the fact that he constantly addressed everyone as “my friends, my dear friends.” To me, it became annoying, a quite frankly, a little strange because it seemed insincere. They might be your supporters, but they aren’t automatically your friends. I think a couple of times would have been enough, but it was said far too much and it lost its appeal of making him seem like just a “regular guy” I agree that his transitions were a bit awkward and that he was not able to gain everyones undivided attention as Obama was able to. To be fair, I think a great deal of this was due to the ruckus going on there. I also found the chanting and cheering in between issues to take away from the effectiveness of the speech because it took so long for him to be able to speak again. All this being said, I think Obama did a better job and was more effective overall with his nomination speech.

  10. nfinney says:

    I think that the most important argument that Senator McCain laid out in his acceptance speech was his policy for the war in Iraq. While I disagree with Senator McCain that the troop surge was necessary and I believe we should pull out of the war, I still think his argument is important to his campaign. He’s trying to repair some of his party’s reputation, who through the Bush administration subjected the nation to this unpopular war. Since the violence levels are indeed going down after the surge, the McCain campaign is trying to capitalize by showing that they were in the right; he fought for “more troops” and “the right strategy”, while Senator Obama was against the troop surge.

    While Obama has responded by admitting the surge worked to reduce violence, he remains convinced that a reduction of forces or a withdrawal of some kind may have created a similar trend of nonviolence. I agreed with Obama and didn’t like the idea of the surge, but now that it can be viewed as a success, it does make me wonder if the Republicans were right. But at the same time, at what point do we withdraw? Surely it should be sooner rather than later and it doesn’t make sense to me that troop surges are a necessary prequel to withdrawal.

    Senator McCain was probably speaking to a pretty broad range of voters, as the war in Iraq is an issue that affects many people and that many people feel strongly about. But just as Obama did last week, I’d have to think that McCain was speaking to the independents and moderates who aren’t decided on their party affiliation or have formed a voting trend. These are the voters that will probably have a strong influence on the outcome of the election.

    I would say Senator McCain’s speech was pretty effective. It was pretty subtle and yet confident enough to make him come off as the good ole boy candidate. It seems as though his campaign is fine with letting McCain take the backseat to Governor Palin, who is bringing some vitality to their ticket. Her speech seemed more aggressive than McCain’s, which I think was an interesting strategy. I’m not sure which party had the better convention or convinced the most people, but my vote was never really in doubt, so I wasn’t swayed by anything.

  11. Emily says:

    I felt that McCain’s strongest argument was towards the end when he spoke of his trials in the Vietnam War. It showed the kind of strength and courage needed to lead our country. I thought the group this point targeted was most obviously people in the military and their loved ones. I thought his experience would especially speak to them and also he would do what was in their best interest because he has experienced war first hand. The detailed account also connected the audience with him personally. When anyone tells you about an experience that tests their moral fiber it brings you closer to them.
    As a way to get the military back on Obama’s side he could outline his objectives more carefully. Obama has already said that he will remove troops altogether from Iraq and this alone is enough to get some of the military. McCain also never directly said what his plan for Iraq was but only that he has the experience to decide what is right. Obama could use this and say that if McCain voted to continue the war that he will not stop it once elected.
    I did think that McCain’s speech was effective. He presented himself as a strong candidate. He obviously feels very strongly about America and came off as compassionate. He was not the best speaker but I think he got his views across to the public. The only thing that might have hurt it’s effectiveness were the references to how old he is. I thought the worst was something like, “I will fight for this country with every last breath I have,” because that could really be any day.

  12. kprobst says:

    Senator McCain seemed to be speaking to a specific group just as Obama did last week. The group that I see him speaking to more was the older generation. The people who have seen war and faught in war and those who are still fighting in the different brances of of the military. That group would also be have alot of middle class citizens in it.
    The one thing that I noticed when McCain was speaking was that he addressed his VP alot. He spoke about what she could would bring to the team alot. He talked about some of what he wanted to do when he is elected to be the next Precident of the United States. He did not seem very confident when he was speaking. As we decussed in class he is not confident when it comes to speeches.
    I was not as moved by McCain’s speech as I had been by Obama’s. I think that the way that McCain precented himself was clear and straight to the point on what he wanted to say; McCain when he spoke about the war on Iraq had a very clear and distict way that he wanted to solve it. He said taht he will make decisions on what is best for the people and not have the decision be the popular choice. I was not as convinced with McCain’s speech but the intent was there and I understood it.

  13. Kiernan Whitworth says:

    The most important argument laid out by McCain was the same that he and all republicans have been making throughout this campaign and that is experience. McCain highlighted all the different ways that he has served this country, through the military as well as in congress. This was the most important argument because it is such a reassurance to the indecisive voter that he does have the history of service on his side. Also by highlighting his many achievements he shows by contrast the much fewer achievements that Senator Obama has under his belt.
    The way that Obama could respond is the way that he always has responded by pointing out the shortcoming of McCain. He will most likely point out how McCain will lead an administration similar to Bush and how Obama is really focused on change. I think that if Obama’s speech was played after McCain’s it would be a good enough argument to McCain’s speech. It really helped McCain that he was able to have his speech second, he was allowed to argue against Obama’s acceptances speech.
    The audience that was targeted was obviously those Americans that are undecided for whatever reason. McCain was able to get his plans across to these people to shed light on what they did not know about him. I think it was also made a point to show McCain’s mother to show these indecisive that he still has many years left in him.
    Overall I think his speech was effective but in comparison to Obamas speech it was not as effective as an orator.

  14. Sarah Pierson says:

    I believe that John McCains did not make very many arguments in his speech. I believe he gave points of emphasis. He consistantly pointed out different topics in which he believed his idea was better than Obama’s. I only say that don’t think there were many arguments becuase he only grazed topics and didn’t actually go into why they were better. For example, his leading idea was the economy and more jobs for Americans. This is a great stance but I didn’t learn how he was going to create these new jobs other than lowering taxes. He fails to recognize the incredible debt we are in already. Still his idea of keeping the American economy going by creating new and lasting jobs for those who do not have any was good.

    That idea also was important because, like Obama’s speech, it told the audience what they wanted to hear. I felt like McCain’s speech was directed towards middle class who may have lost jobs or need to prosper. It was also very directed to veterans. His speech emphisized the importance of how he wanted to recover the peoples trust and stop working for a party but for the people. There was a great emphasis on the people and the country. I believe this was a good tactic because the people want to know what he can do for them.

    Obama can respond by bringing up the great debt the country is in. It is easy to say “I will lower taxes” and I will basically give you more money but it is harder to back it up realistically. There is no way we can get out of debt if we do not pay up in one way or another.

    I personally wasn’t that moved by McCain’s speech. It took him more than 10 minutes to start the speech up becuase he had to thank everyone who surrounds him. Which is important but could have been done faster. I also understand that he wants to change washington and he tells us that change is coming soon but I never really heard what that change would be. I thought that Palin’s speech was a much more effective speech.

  15. nmodly says:

    Sen. McCain gave a powerful speech on Thursday night that covered issues from the war in Iraq to changes in the education system. I really appreciated that he discussed issues directly. Support for his arguments, and future plans were backed up with actual data and facts that helped to make his points more credible. For example, he talks about the $700 billion a year on countries that don’t like the U.S. and spend this money on more important things. However, of all the arguments he had, and all the support he made his most powerful point came from his past experiences. Sen. McCain’s most valued trait is his lengthy resume and past accomplishments. All government issues aside, Sen. McCain’s experience in the war and the things he has lived through makes him feel much more approachable and understanding of life as an American. He has seen things that most people will never seen or even begin to imagine, and it helps him relate and have a deeper understanding for soldiers in Iraq. For so many people who have issues with the war in Iraq and have suffered through these trials.
    Sen. McCain addressed a completely different audience than Sen. Obama. He seemed to be addressing a more middle class audience. He put a great emphasis on the people and the regain the trust of his country. I believe that this is his strongest tactic as a candidate.
    I think that in order for Sen. Obama to come back after all the talk of McCain and his running mate Gov. Palin, he needs to stress his new and vibrant ideas for change. These two issues separate the two candidates and I think, will be a huge deciding factor for the election.

  16. escot1ot says:

    I agree that Senator McCain did not make many actual arguments in his speech; I felt that he mostly reiterated ideas surrounding his campaign. The most important out of the arguments that he did make was that he has more experience than Obama. This argument primarly included allusions to his military experience, especially his time as a prisoner of war. He mentioned this many times during his speech to emphasize the idea that he has dealt with difficult situations, and also told the story of his capture and detainment to show that he loves his country more than himself. This argument is very powerful for voters who are worried about the war in Iraq-they will more carefully consider a candidate who has military experience and who knows how it works.
    The voters that this speech would likely appeal to are Republicans and people who voted for Bush. McCain spoke a lot about bipartisanship and not worrying about which party gets credit for which laws, but he did not say anything that I believe would appeal to Democrats. He also did not seem to be reaching out to young people, or at least he did not seem to be reaching out to them very effectively. The camera showed the older veterans many times during the speech, again to emphasize McCain’s experience, but they did not focus on the diversity in age or ethnicity of the crowd.
    Overall, McCain’s speech was ineffective. I felt that he was talking at me and not to me, and while this may have been caused by the fact that McCain is not a good public speaker, it still took away from the effectiveness of his speech. He also said the same things over and over again, such as “I don’t work for myself, I work for you, ” which is a strategy for implanting a memorable tag-line, but again I did not feel like he was saying those words to me, I felt like he was saying them at me. Also, the plain green and blue screens behind McCain made him look very sterile and robotic, rather than warm and charismatic. Obama is a much better speaker, and comparing the two speeches has demonstrated to me the importance appearance and deliverance when making a speaking in public.

  17. Matt Treacy says:

    I believe that the most important part of Sen. McCain’s speech was what he said about how we can improve our economy. He spoke about how he plans to do this differently than Sen. Obama. Sen. McCain stated that he plans to not try and bring back old jobs and ignore the global economy as Obama said he would, however he stated that he plans to help people who lost their job get a new one that “won’t go away.” I believe he is trying to reach the audience of people who have and are in the process of losing their jobs due to lower labor costs overseas. This is namely our manufacturing workers and in some cases our service workers. Their jobs are being outsourced to countries like India and China. With the vast disparity in the standards of living in those countries and our own those jobs may never come back to the U.S. because companies cannot compete anymore without these cheap labor costs. The cpeech as a whole I found to be very effective. He isn’t half the speaker that Sen. Obama is, however I felt his speech was more truthful and real than Sen. Obama’s and I felt it gripped the audience in a way that he needed.

  18. Serena says:

    Here I go, posting at some ungodly hour of the night again.

    McCain spent an awful lot of time focusing on his own character. I was really struck by this, because this gave his speech a very different feel from Obama’s. While the most important argument that both were trying to make was, arguably, simply “you should vote for me”, McCain addressed this from a different angle. His primary argument consisted not only of “I’m the right person for the job”, but also “I’m the right person for the job and this is a little bit about me.” Obama preferred to illustrate his character through his ideals, while McCain was a little more explicit with his speech, describing himself over and over:

    “We are fellow Americans, and that’s an association that means more to me [beat] than any other.”

    “I’m not in the habit of breaking promises to my country.”

    “I don’t work for a party, I don’t work for a special interest, I don’t work for myself. I work for you.”

    “I’d rather lose an election than see my country lose a war.”

    “I know how the world works. I know the good and evil in it.”

    And in reference to what he took away from his Vietnam experience: “I wasn’t my own man anymore… I was my country’s.”

    McCain made this speech first and foremost about his personality and dedication, with slightly less focus on his plans than Obama had. (Nearly all of Obama’s speech was about future plans and ideas.) This gave the speech a much more personal feel, which seemed to work well for his audience. Considering how wildly popular and charismatic Obama is, this was a good move. In order to compete with Obama, McCain had to show the general public that he was also a real person, not just one of the self-serving bureaucrats that he was so critical of. He introduced himself to the voters as a human being, rather than just an instrument for change, and kept that focus throughout the speech.

    He further added to this sympathetic image by maintaining a pretty constant element of humility. This was most apparent in comments like “I’ve been an imperfect servant of our country for many years” and his description of the corruption in Washington, which he seemed almost apologetic for, by using first-person rather than third: “We lost their trust when we valued our power over our principles.” By saying “we” rather than “they”, he has inserted himself into the group that he is criticizing, but cleverly used this to his advantage by emphasizing the change he wants to bring about. He is clearly hoping that voters would see that as evidence of his ability to effect positive change despite past transgressions. Nothing like putting yourself in a position of blame, and then yanking yourself right back out again. I guess it seems a little silly when phrased like that, but it worked for him.

    The best response that Obama can make is probably just a continuation of what he’s been doing. He has been (and needs to keep on) de-emphasizing his own lack of experience and focus instead on all of his ideas for change, and how he’s going to make them happen. If Obama plans his arguments just right, Palin could end up being a huge liability for McCain, because there’s certainly a lot of material and hypocrisy there to criticize. (But, as I said, carefully—everyone seems pretty eager to pull the “sexist” card on whoever picks on Palin. His arguments need to be about her past political decisions and attitude towards the environment, primarily. Once you get on to the moral stuff, it’s a little squidgy. Nobody wants people yelling “Well, you just don’t know what it’s like to be a mother!” at them, no matter how many pregnant teenage daughters are involved.)

    McCain was clearly ‘preaching to the choir’, but he was also reaching a whole other group of voters, and was definitely aware of this. His decision to make the speech a much more personal one reflects his awareness of the many undecided voters watching on television or listening on the radio. I said earlier that he was ‘introducing’ himself to his audience, and that’s exactly what it was. Not just to the die-hard supporters in the crowd at the convention center, but also (especially) to everyone else who was watching. He totally did the “Hello, this is me, and this is what I believe in” thing, which I think is a pretty darn effective strategy. If people feel that they ‘know’ him (and the real him, not just an official public image), they’re much more likely to cast their votes in that direction.

  19. bdonohue says:

    i believe that mccain hit his strongest points in his speech when he spoke about the necessary changes that washington needed to undergo in order to operate more peacefully and cooperatively. this seemed to me as though it was his answer to obamas candidacy shaped around changed. if what he says is true and he is able to stick to it then he makes a strong argument for a reason to vote for him. i believe his best point was that the democrats and republicans need to work together for the common good. if this is carried out this is a more compelling argument then i heard in obamas speech. however, i also couldnt help but be a bit turned off by his delivery of this portion of the speech. his speech was broken and had very poor flow. i cant lie, this had an impact on the way i recieved it. he had trouble with the prompter and his movements were strange and robotic. i couldnt help but question the whether what mccain was saying was genuine or just typical political banter.

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