Visual Rhetoric – Fall 2008 Rotating Header Image

Election Night Result: President-Elect Obama

Last night’s event will garner round the clock media attention for days to come. There are a number of important stories to follow: the historical significance of this election, how this election will change America’s status in the world, and what is in store for the President-elect. But for this post, I would like you to focus on how the two candidates transitioned from campaigning to transition/governing. Start by looking at video clips from Obama and McCain’s final campaign rallies:

Barack Obama in Manassas, VA, 11pm Monday night:

John McCain in Roswell, NM

Now watch their speeches on election night, given within 24 hours of the speeches above. Start with John McCain’s concession speech, given after the networks called the election for Obama, and after John McCain called Obama to concede the election:

Finally, watch President-Elect Obama’s victory speech in Grant Park, Chicago:

Now for the prompts:

1) How do the candidates shift from campaigning to a conclusion of the campaign in their two speeches?

2) Did John McCain meet your expectations for his concession speech? Did he exceed expectations? Would you have had the same expectations if Obama had lost?

3) Did Barack Obama meet your expectations for his victory speech? Did he exceed expectations? Would you have had the same expectations if McCain had won?

20 Comments

  1. Liz Scott says:

    Both Obama and McCain’s speeches give a smooth transition from campaigning to concluding the election and moving to governance while still maintaining the same general ideas. In Obama’s last speech before the election, he tells an anecdote about the beginning of his campaign. This story gives the sense that it has been a hard road and that he didn’t have much success in the beginning, and he talks about what he has learned from people along the way. This is probably a strategy to make people think about his success now. He doesn’t mention McCain or his plans and policies for the future. This speech was definitely geared towards inspiring people to vote for him. In his victory speech, Obama also talks about the election but in the context of the overall unity of America. He still maintains his ideas of hope and change, and also mentions the historic nature of the election. In this speech, Obama does talk about McCain and his concession call, and says many positive things about him, for example, that he is a “brave and selfless leader.” These positive comments are more geared toward governance as Obama talks about how he looks forward to working with McCain and Palin and begins to put the campaign behind him.
    He also mentions other aspects of governance, such as moving his family to the White House, the tasks ahead, the challenges facing the country, and his certainty that “we will get there.” He also mentions the inevitable negative aspects of governance, such as setbacks, false starts, disagreements, but he also says that he will be honest about policies. He ends the speech by emphasizing the fact that winning the election is not the victory, but the chance for victory, and that Americans will have to unify, work harder, and look after each other. In this speech, the important idea of “yes we can” moves from electing Obama to governing the country and overcoming challenges.

    McCain also emphasizes unity, both in his last speech before the election and his concession speech. In his last speech before election day, he starts out by offering his condolences for the death of Obama’s grandmother. Unlike Obama, he focuses more on his service and experience with many different things such as water, land, and Native American issues than the long journey of his campaign. This is probably a last effort to remind people that are still on the fence of his qualifications. Also unlike Obama, he compares himself to his opponent and offers a lot of criticism for his plans for taxes.He mentions a lot of things we have heard in other speeches, and also talks about his plans for the future. In his concession speech, McCain very clearly concludes his campaign by recognizing that the American public has definitely elected Obama. He talks about the historic nature of the election, about Obama’s achievement as the first African American president, and again offers his condolences for the death of Obama’s grandmother.He tells the crowd to join him in congratulating Obama, and then moves on to talk about plans for the future such as putting differences aside, the hard road ahead, and that all American must work together to fix problems. He does mention failure but very specifically takes it on himself; this is probably another way to help his supporters move on from the loss. He gives proper thanks to the crowd, his family, and Sarah Palin for their support, and seems to accept the loss and encourages the crowd to move forward. H says he won’t regret the campaign because it was the most exciting time of his life, and really brings the point home as he concludes the speech by talking about how he and Sarah Palin will continue to serve the country despite the fact that they were not elected.

    McCain and Obama definitely met my expectations for their speeches on election night. McCain especially exceeded my expectations. I thought his speech was eloquent, honest, and inspiring-a sharp contrast from his other speeches. I think he did a great job and I am glad that he is part of U.S. politics. Obama also did a great job, and I think it is very important that both candidates emphasized the unity of America. Americans were extremely divided over this election and I know that many people are upset with the outcome, but both candidates are right when they say that we will not be able to overcome our current problems unless we try to work together.

  2. kprobst says:

    Both candidates seemed to shift there way of speaking. McCain was humbal he seemed to take pride in the fact that he at least had the chance to run in this campaign. He seemed to be proud that he was here to be part of history.
    Obama seemed to be a little bit humbal as well. He did not act as if he new this was comming to him. He was proud that we as Americans choose him. But he was humbal because he was not excited. His speech was less loud.
    John McCain did meet my expectations for his concession spech. He was understanding, when he spoke. He seemed to less choose me aditude because Obama had been chosen. He thanked those peopel who suported him and said he would do what he could to help out. He said that the American people had chosen and he was proud to be part of this campaign. McCain did exceed my expectations. No I think that this speech would not have been the same if Obama had lost. I think it would let me down.
    Yes Obama’s speech met my expectations also. I think he spoke well without saying am I told you that I would do this. He said that he was glad that we the Americans made their choice and that he would not take what we wanted and start working on it. His speech did exceed my expectation by the fact he was appricative. My expectations would also have been different if McCain would have won and I was hearing this speech.

  3. Brittany Cooney says:

    John McCain went from trying to “rally the troops” by telling them what he will do and criticizing Sen. Obama, to respectfully conceding in 24 hours. His concession speech was well done. He did what the losing candidate should have done. He no longer was criticizing his opponent, but showed his support for him. His speech exceeded my expectations, but it was what I wanted to see. I think that the losing candidate should try to reassure their followers that they will still work for change and will work with the new President. I think that John McCain did a good job of being respectful to Sen. Obama and keeping the voters optimistic about the future.
    Barack Obama is trying to “fire up” his supporters, like John McCain did the night before the election, but he uses a different technique. I feel that Barack Obama’s technique was more appropriate for the night before the election. By that time most voters had already made up their minds and he was getting them ready to go out and vote and start the change that he promised. Obama’s speech was more of a conclusion to a campaign than McCain’s speech. It seems that John McCain was still trying to get supporters, even the night before, which could have been because he knew he was behind.
    Barack Obama’s acceptance speech tried to unite the country, like John McCain’s concession speech did. His mention of John McCain and Sarah Palin was tasteful and respectful. Mentioning his family was helpful to for me to still see him as a somewhat normal man, instead of the unimaginable President of the United States. In his acceptance speech Obama focused on the American people and how they won this election, which helps to make this more of a national success than just his election over John McCain. Barack Obama is still trying to fire up Americans to get ready for the change that will come, but in a less clear and intense way than the night before. My expectations were for either candidate to have a unifying acceptance speech, but the way that Barack Obama did that exceeded my expectations. Since Obama is a stronger speaker who is able to draw people in, I think that his speech was different than what John McCain’s would have been. I expected the same basic ideas to be in either candidate’s acceptance speech. I feel that Barack Obama was able to get the point across very well and very easily, which is partially because of the historic nature of his being elected President.

  4. Sadie Hagberg says:

    While both candidates did a good job of shifting from campaigning to concluding their campaigns in their last speeches, they approached these speeches very differently. Barack Obama’s speech was a little more personal and much less about politics, policies and issues of the election. He let us in on the not-so-glamorous aspects of campaigning that he experienced, especially in the beginning. He took us back to the start of his campaign when he was working hard for endorsements and speaking to crowds of 20 people. He used this personal anecdote and brought if full circle to where he stood that night, showing how much the campaign had evolved. He used the story about the woman saying “Fire it up-Ready to go” and explained how everyone’s voice can change the world. McCain, on the other hand, was clearly pushing hard all the way to the end. Most of his speech probably could have been from any rally from the campaign trail, making the separation from campaigning to concluding a little ambiguous. McCain was still pointing out Obama’s flaws and still talking politics, while Obama seemed much more laid back. Obama didn’t overly exude confidence, but I think the fact that he was so laid back and strayed from talking politics like in most campaign speeches gives indication that he was pretty confident the election would go in his favor. McCain was less confident and felt the need to still get his message to the people before they went to the polls.

    John McCain’s concession speech impressed me and exceeded my expectations. His speech was for the most part very sincere. For probably the first time in the campaign McCain pointed out some of Obama’s strengths and abilities saying that he admired them. He urges his supporters to find ways to come together and make compromises in what they believe and to give Obama their support now and says that he will do the same. He handles the crowd very well when they start to boo Obama and tells them very sincerely to stop. I think McCain does have a lot of respect and faith in Obama and you can see that. He takes responsibility for the outcome of the election telling ells that crowd that “the failure is mine not yours.” This is very interesting and is very big of him to admit. This speech was unlike many of the speeches he had been giving within the last few months of the campaign and seems to be more like what he used to sound like. This was a very gracious and respectable speech. If Obama had lost I would have thought that Obama would give a speech on the same level of McCain’s speech, but I think Obama is a better speaker to begin with. McCain certainly exceeded my expectations and I believe he delivered a speech on the level that I would have expected from Obama.

    Obama’s victory speech was very well put together and that’s exactly what I expected from him. Obama is such a strong and enticing speaker that I assumed her would deliver a speech on the level that he did. I thought he appeared very confident and very presidential. I think it was very important that he acknowledged Senator McCain, and referenced the “gracious” call that he received from him. He clearly has respect for both McCain and Palin congratulated them on everything that they had achieved. I think it was also important when he said he looked forward to working with them in renewing the nation because they need to make is clear that they are on good terms. Similar to McCain, Obama also thanked everyone close to him. I would not have had the same expectations for a victory speech from McCain had he won because Obama is generally a better speaker. However, after hearing McCain’s concession speech I think that McCain would have delivered a victory speech that was just as good.

  5. Obama and McCain’s speeches transitioned smoothly from campaigning to concluding the election. Obama spoke about how he knew it was going to be a hard road from the beginning but knew that the United States needed change and that he wanted to be the one to enforce that. He spoke about moving his family to the White House, the election how it is an historic event for the country, and how he wanted to unify America and strengthen our foreign relations overseas. McCain emphasized unity as well. He thanked the crowd for all their support and spoke about how he wanted to work together with Obama because both parties need to work in unison in order to change the problems that the country has been facing. McCain, before the election ended, spoke about how different he and Obama were and how he would be the better candidate because of his experience in politics. Obama, before the election ended, spoke on how the U.S. needed hope and change and how he was going to raise spirits and help improve the economy. Both of them were talked about how different their tactics were for improving the country but at the end of the day, just wanted to continue having America being a powerful force on the world stage.

    I was pleasantly surprised to hear McCain’s very humble and appreciative speech. He acknowledged all of Obama’s hard work these past months and said that he would be behind him and hopefully get to work with him during Obama’s time in the White House. For me, he exceeded my own expectations. I didn’t know how gracious he was going to be if he lost the election since I know how much he really wanted to win and be president. Since he is so much older, this was his only shot to attain this position. I think his speech would have been gracias if Obama had lost, and he had won. Being polite and giving credit to your opponent is not only the right thing to do but gains the respect from the people.

    I found Barack Obama’s speech to be very touching. He made it clear that he knew that he had not gained the trust of all the voters, but that he was still president and that he was going to continue to work hard at gaining the trust of the American people. He emphasized that the United States needed change and that he was going to implement those changes to make us a stronger and more united country. Obama would have been respectful if McCain had won. He spoke about how McCain was a leader and brave and selfless. I know he would have said positive things about McCain and backed him up the same way McCain did for Obama.

  6. Casey Ridlon says:

    The last campaign speeches of both candidates were energetic and encouraging. The candidate continued to focus on specific Americans or groups in order to seal their vote. Both maintained a tone of confidence and optimism and they stuck to their previous campaign strategies. McCain continued to compare his policies and goals to Obama to gain favor, while Obama employed personal experiences and interaction with American citizen to entertain his supporters.

    The transition however between the campaign speeches and the concession/victory speeches is dramatic. The concession speech given by McCain is powerful, but very sad. He has lost his fervor and looks tired and disappointed. Although he continues to affirm the greatness of our country and encourage the American people he doesn’t possess the enthusiasm he did before. His audience has also expanded from McCain supports to other groups I had never heard him directly addressed before—specifically African Americans. Obama’s victory speech is still all about details and speaking to peoples emotions; however, he makes his points with more certainty and he is able to speak more freely about his plans and his relationship with the American people. He also focuses more on the history that has been made within this particular election. Yet I would have to say between two, McCain and Obama, I saw a greater change or transition among his final speeches.

  7. mackayc says:

    I was very impressed with both speeches. One thing that stood out for me as a shift from campaigning was how both were calm and collected in their speaking. Maybe they were exhausted, relieved, or disappointed, but there was a sense of calmness that I had not seen from either of them in their campaign season. Also, both candidates thanked their voters for their dedication and hard work. In addition, both talked of the future of the country and I think both these points marked the end of the campaign season.

    My expectations were definitely met for McCain’s concession speech. I think he came across as a respectable man and a “good” looser. I was glad to hear him comment on Obama’s grandmother and I was also glad he said he would continue to work with Obama, his future president.

    I think Obama had a very good victory speech as well. He did not come across as conceded but rather thankful and honored in the county’s decision to elect him president. I like how he talked about a leadership change and how one voice can have such a drastic impact on a city, state, nation and the world. I appreciated him addressing other nations and promised them change and dedication from the United States. I thought it was interesting how Obama ended his speech with an anecdote about the 106 year- old woman. It was very typical of his campaign to tell stories about people he met, so this was an interesting way to tie everything together. And again, his message of change an hope came across in his last story about the woman.

    I think both touched on important aspects and I would not have expected either of them to do anything different.

  8. Serena says:

    I thought that McCain’s transition from campaigning to concluding was a little abrupt, while Obama’s was slightly smoother. This is probably due in large part to the content and tone of their speeches. McCain’s last campaign speech was, as Sadie says above, pretty much the generic rally speech. He didn’t seem as confident as he has been in the past, and I thought the speech itself was very unfocused, bouncing back and forth between a whole bunch of issues. If McCain was trying to hit these major issues, there must have been a more organized way to do it than the abrupt shifts you see in his speech. He also uses the phrase “if I’m elected”, rather than “when I’m elected”, something that makes him look a bit less secure and hopeful about the outcome. He was all over the place with this speech, and the sense of disorganization was only added to by the attacks he threw in, which seemed more like afterthoughts than legitimate complaints. This final speech was just the latest in a series of campaign speeches, rather than a speech that concluded campaigning as a whole.

    His concession speech, however, had a completely different tone. He was clearly very emotional, and this added to the power of his speech and the effect on the viewer. He was well-organized, dignified, and respectful. He took on the blame himself for his failure to be elected, and praised Obama’s perseverance, asking his audience to stand united behind the next President. His supporters, however, behaved very differently. They booed every time McCain said Obama’s name, and especially when he mentioned the congratulatory phone call. As we discussed in class, McCain looked annoyed at this, and tried to stop it immediately. This makes sense, because the tone of his speech was the exact opposite of this negativity that he was getting from the crowds. It wasn’t just rude; it undermined the point he was trying to make about joining together as a nation. It seemed like the crowd was still reacting as if it were just another rally, and behaved as they had been at many of McCain’s other rallies. The only positive thing coming from the crowd was the occasional chanting of “we love John” when he was blaming himself for the campaign’s failure.

    Despite the negative crowds (which reminded me a little of Yankees fans, honestly) I thought that John McCain’s concession speech was highly effective and surprisingly touching. In displaying his emotions, he created a much more powerful effect on the audience. Someone mentioned in class the idea that McCain is “from the generation that stands behind the president, no matter who it is”, and we discussed how unusual this is. I’d like to think that it’s not an outdated concept, but perhaps a forgotten one that speeches like this will help people remember. I think it is possible to support the person who has accomplished the difficult task of being elected to office while not necessarily agreeing with all of their policies. Acknowledgment of accomplishments is not the same as blind agreement. I had lower expectations for McCain’s concession speech than I would have had for Obama’s, but his speech exceeded my expectations and, frankly, had a greater emotional effect on me than Obama’s victory speech. It left me with much more respect for John McCain than I’d had throughout the campaign process, probably because he was finally able to do away with all that negative campaigning and simply speak as himself, something that I’m not sure he’s gotten much of a chance to do.

    Obama’s victory speech pretty much met my expectations, but didn’t exceed them. (Granted, my expectations for Obama’s speech were higher, based on his impressive earlier campaign speeches.) I may be the odd one out here, because I know that most of my friends were in tears throughout this speech. Perhaps it was about being caught up in the moment, rather than watching it online a few days later. I would have had the same expectations for McCain, and I’m sure that he would have been just as gracious towards Obama in a victory speech as he was in his concession speech. (I’m pretty sure, however, that his audience would have behaved exactly the same way in either speech.) I thought that Obama’s speech was impressive, and showed great maturity and organization, something that I think is very important to display in a speech like this, when some viewers might still be skeptical about the candidate’s preparedness for a mess this big. I didn’t cry, but I was very impressed with the way that he managed to tie this with the past 100 years (through an anecdote about a voter, of course) and use it to illustrate this country’s capacity for positive change. The puppy was a nice touch too.

    One last note– the camera work during both speeches (at least in the versions posted here) was striking. Nothing was static for long, and during McCain’s concession speech especially, the cameras cut away an awful lot to individuals in the crowd. This was a really effective technique that drew in television or online viewers, making them feel like they were experiencing it along with these individuals. Obama’s had a bit of that too, though a significant amount of time was devoted to long, sweeping shots of the crowds, stage, and the gazillion flags behind him. The flags, too, were a beautiful touch, because no matter where Obama stood, there was always an American flag billowing behind him dramatically. McCain’s placement was similarly deliberate, with stripes behind him that really added emphasis to what he was saying about unification.

  9. nmodly says:

    I think that Obama’s transition from campaigning to conclusion was far more dramatic than McCain’s transition. The speech given at the rally in Virginia was exciting and motivational. It left the audience with great anticipation for election day and made every person feel that their voice was significant and their vote the following day was not only necessary but also valued. Obama is a naturally good speaker and he many of his rallies do just that, they motivate, and gain support by “firing up” the crowd in a powerful way. For his acceptance speech, I felt that Obama’s response was far more professional and serious at this point. This was not only a historical moment but, the entire country is now looking to him to make the necessary changes to save the suffering economy along with a number of other issues. Obama, took on the role of the president that night not because of his number of votes but by the way he addressed his audience in such a professional manner. This may be a strange analogy but I feel like he went from being a motivational/cheerleader at a pep rally to the leader of the country (in his speaking style at least).
    McCain too switched roles in his speaking style but I think, he knew he would not win the presidency and so at the point both his speech in New Mexico and his concession speech in Arizona were the conclusions to a long journey and his last effort to regain as much support and respect from the pubic as he could.

    I was so impressed with McCain’s concession speech. It was not only effective, but it served a much greater purpose for McCain as an individual and as a Senator. He has so many supporters and many of them respect him on a deep level not for his politics but for his service to the country. Because of this, he needed to leave his supporters in a respectful and honorable way,by taking the blame on himself. He made an humble and honorable speech that also helped to save the republican party as a whole, which had been dramatically hurt through this campaign process. The most significant thing he did was leave the people with a charge to support the new president. To support the leader of the country and although they may not agree with every decision, it is the duty of Americans to show him the worthy respect of the leader of the nation. I don’t think I would have expected the same things from Barak Obama if he had lost. I would have, undoubtedly, expected him to bow out gracefully and respectfully, showing gratitude for the people’s support and the duty to support the new president-elect. But if Obama had not won the presidency I am sure that it would not have been the end of his political career and therefore would still need to maintain his supporter for future years.

    All that to say, Obama did win the presidency and his speech was exactly as I had expected it. He has always been known for his speaking skill and the way he captures the attention of the audience. I was pleasantly surprised with the way he kept specific political agendas out of the speech. This particular campaign has been exhausting and extremely controversial and bombarding the public with his agenda may have turned people away from him and taken away from the significance of the historic moment. If John McCain had won the presidency I would have expected the same thing but unfortunately I know that his victory speech may have been clouded with racial controversies because of Obama’s loss, which McCain would have been expected to address in an honorable way.

    Visually, Obama’s speech felt very “all american” and focused on the country as a whole which I think really strengthened his speech. The american flags in the background combined with the camera techniques that showed all his supporters emphasizing his role as the leader of the country. McCain’s speech shared in these techniques but there was just a different mood. McCain was expected to leave a legacy as his role in politics may not last much longer and after such an exhausting campaign Americans needed to see him turn the attention away from himself and onto the new president which I think he did in a graceful and honorably way.

  10. Emily Curtis says:

    The two candidates concluded their campaigns in a similar way. John McCain transitioned by congratulating Obama and trying to bring the country together. McCain had said that he wanted to run a friendly campaign but it got a little ugly at times and this really solidified his position. McCain showed his gracious side in his concession speech. Obama was more light-hearted in his speech, talking about how he was getting his kids a dog. Obama also wanted to bring the country together in his speech. After battling for the presidency both did not want partisanship to divide the country. Now that Obama is president he will need to unite us.
    John McCain definitely exceeded my expectations for his concession speech. When people started booing when he congratulated Obama, he made them understand that this wasn’t right. I would have expected the same from Obama because if you really care about the country you will support the person who is going to lead it.
    Barack Obama has had such passionate and well thought out speeches that for me his victory speech did not hit the mark because he has set the bar so high. Both candidates have been campaigning extremely hard and I think Obama was so thankful for it to be over that his speech was not as uplifting as usual. However the moment itself was so uplifting and amazing it made up for it. If McCain had won I would have expected one of the best speeches of his career because it would have been a much harder task for him to strengthen and unite the country.

  11. Emma says:

    Both McCain and Obama concluded their campaigns in a similar manner. Their speeches the night before the election were both enthusiastic and powerful, attempting to excite and pump up the crowd. Both candidates seemed particularly relaxed, making jokes and interacting with the crowd. Their speeches the next night were obviously much more somber and serious. It seemed the adrenaline was pumping on Monday night, and Tuesday night, when it was all over, the exhaustion set in, so to speak.

    McCain’s speech was beyond my expectations. He was very conciliatory and respectful of Obama and the Democratic win, and I think his attempt to guide his supporters to accept the loss graciously was very classy and effective. I heard several analysis say (and I also agree) that if McCain had delivered more speeches like this one, perhaps he would have fared better. The pressure was definitely off McCain at this moment and it seemed to show in his performance.

    Obama met my expectations. He has already proved himself to be an excellent orator. He appeared very presidential and was obviously calmer than he had been in his speech the night before. The speech was very powerful which seemed to express his victory and mandate without expressly rubbing it in McCain or the Republican’s face. I think he did a great job at attempting to mend the wounds of the campaign (especially his kind words for McCain and Palin) and trying to unite the entire country. It was wise to recognize not only his supporters, but America as a whole. His campaign was centered around finding common ground and embracing all people and views, so I think it was vital he did this.

  12. Kiernan Whitworth says:

    The two candidates have a smooth transition from one speech to the other but obviously the tone of the two would change. Both of the pre-election speeches were full of hope and rarely mentioned “what if we lose”. In both of the speeches the candidates thanked all of the people that made what they did possible. In Obama’s second speech however he went back even further into the past to thank all civil rights workers and what they had did to make that moment possible.
    John McCain did meet my expectations for his concession speech because my expectations were not very high to begin with. He did not wow me with his speech oration skills the same way he has never done. The thing that stood out to me in his speech was when he conceded to Barack Obama and the crowd booed. I was watching “Real Time with Bill Maher” and he pointed out, in John Kerry’s concession speech four years earlier, the fact that the democrats in the audience did not boo. Maher said that this showed that republicans were a “different breed”. I would have had higher expectations for Obama if he had lost. He would have highlighted how a black man had made it further in an election than anyone would have hoped. I think his concession speech as a whole would have been more positive and forward looking; after all he would have had many more years to run for election.
    Obama did meet my expectations for his victory speech. His speech didn’t fail to tug on the emotional strings of everyone watching including my friend who is a staunch republican. I don’t think that McCain’s acceptance speech would have been as moving simply because it would not have been such a monumental moment in history. McCain is also not as good at drawing out emotional feelings as Obama is.

  13. Sarah Pierson says:

    What I noticed in the campagins on election night compared to their campaigns was in the election night both canidates had an overall sense of confidence (even if only one won). It looked like Obama and Mccain both gained some type of wisdom that we had not seen earlier that same day. I thought that they stopped the childish back and forth play of who did what wrong. They focused on America as a whole rather than seperate parties. They didn’t didn’t talk about specific people as much as they would in campaining. However they addressed those who voted for them and those who didn’t, and when they did this they explained how neither was wrong but now all must unite. They were very similar in this respect.

    I feel that McCain did a really good job at his last speech. You could tell he was disapointed, as anyone would be, but you also saw a loss of faith in people. This was evident when he quieted his ralliers down. I can sense that he is very proud of Obama and that he understands that Obama will do the right things for the country. McCain wasn’t trying to get people to vote for Obama rather than himself however he was trying to have they appreciate their new president. I honestly don’t think that Obama would have the same response John McCain had if he lost. McCain took it well and with dignity. I think that Obama would have taken it well but might not have said so many nice things about McCain.

    I really liked Obama’s acceptance speech. He spoke and looked like the leader of the United States. He also congradulated the people who voted and supported him and voted. I liked how he seemed vunerable during the speech. He said how he was sleep deprived, sick, and his back hurts but he still campainged. It might have been an exggeration but it gives the impression that he would do anything for his people and his country putting them first and himself second. This was what people want to hear. Thats what Obama is good at. McCain on the other hand is not as good at telling the people what they want to hear. I don’t think that he would have given as good as an acceptance speech that Obama did. He has had problems in the past and I don’t think that it would have ben as successful.

  14. nfinney says:

    After the election was all said and done, the candidates decide it’s time to not take shots at each other. Both were respectable towards the other candidate and gracious for the stiff competition. You can sense their shift from their campaign arguments to focus mostly on unity between the two parties. Both candidates recognize the tough times ahead and realize the election was about more than who won – it was about whoever did win making sure they did everything they can to turn around our economic downfall and Bush’s ridiculous policies. It seems as though the candidates were allowed to be non-specific after the campaign was over, because now that it’s over and Obama is elected, he doesn’t have to make any new promises – he just has to try to keep the ones he’s already made during the campaign trail. I think this Presidential term has high stakes, and McCain and Obama know that too, so it’s time to go to work for Obama. Will he rise to the challenge?

    McCain’s concession speech didn’t necessarily exceed my expectations, but it did improve my opinion of him. I had thought that a lot of his campaign tactics had been shady and pretty inappropriate at times, but his speech, I wouldn’t say made up for it, but at least took the edge off. You could tell he was sincere and it was evident he desperately wanted to be President – he seemed to choke up a little bit here and there. He said probably the best things he could’ve said – promote bipartisanship and unity, offer his help to the Obama administration, blame himself for his “failure”, etc. If Obama had lost, I would’ve expected much of the same from him.

    Obama definitely met my expectations, but it was still very powerful. He has such an effortless cantor that I often think he doesn’t even have to try to sound motivational. With this speech he definitely didn’t need to include specifics about his new policies or lay out his plans for the future – and he didn’t. He gave an eloquent, fired up speech complete with “Yes We Cans” and “Yes We Did”s – these sort of catch phrases were an important centerpiece in his acceptance. It was very important that he made sure everyone knew that it was everyone’s win, not just his own, and that while he did win, the country still faced major challenges. It was uplifting and said all it needed to say, job well done.

  15. Matt Hale says:

    Both Obama and McCain’s speech’s the night before the election took similar routes but were spoken in two totally different manners. You could see in Obama’s face the confidence that he would be the president-elect, by the stories he told and the strong power voice during his speech. It almost seemed as if McCain was trying to “rally” as many votes as he could before the election knowing he would need to make up allot of ground to become the next president. You could see it in his face once again that he knew it was about over before the voting even started, and the wear and tare of this whole process took its toll on him.

    I enjoyed McCain’s speech because he was very sincere in everything he was saying. You could see the emotion on his face and in his eyes the whole time. It showed the struggle of the two year campaign and though he lost, the relief it was over. I was very happy to hear that he had called up Obama. Also to see that he was trying to quit the crowd when thy booed Obama or when they wanted to start a chant. He gained my respect during this speech, because he did not blame anyone but himself and realized that Obama did what was needed to win.

    Obama’s speech send chills down my spine several times. I enjoyed that he brought out his family at the beginning and especially thanked them for their support during this amazingly long campaign. Also he did not talk like the new president right away, he talked about the new puppy they would get and how much he loved and cared about them. It shows he is not just the next president but also a family man first. Watching it live was amazing especially to see people such as Oprah and Jessie Jackson standing there crying. The best part was when he said we are not red or blue states but THE UNITED STATES, I loved how he was talking about bringing everyone together to better this place.

  16. Matt Treacy says:

    First off sorry for this being late i didnt get back to Fredericksburg until about 10 minutes ago I thought I was going to be able to write a blog entry before class…

    McCain and Obama both switched from their campaign to their acceptance and concession speeches in a number of different ways. Sen. McCain in my opinion was very somber and very gracious thanking everyone involved with his campaign as well as thanking Barack Obama. He did not mention anything negative about Sen. Obama and he was told his supporters to support Obama even though he wasn’t the candidate they had in mind. He remnded his supporters that we are al Americans and we should all support our President no matter who it is.

    Yes, Sen. McCain did meet my expectations and even exceeded them a little bit when he defended Obama so stringently. I know we talked about why he came to defend Obama so stringently however it still suprised me. He was very gracious and in my opinion left of the high road. The only thing that I think he should have touched on was to come to Gov. Palin’s defense with the media attacking her still even after the campaign had ended. I felt he should ahve touched on it at the concession speech and again during the week, because as always the media took the Africa’s a country and who’s in NAFTA out of context. He needed to come to her aide because his career as a Presidential candidate is over however Sarah Palin’s political career is just begining. As for if the roles were reversed SE. Obama’s speech in my opnion would have been similar and many ways however it would have been also more race related, due tot he fact that the historical significance of the event and the question if their would ever be another African-American candidate for President again.

    Sen. Obama’s speech in my opinion was not really up to my expectations. It was a phenomenal speech and a moment in history that will be remembered forever however I felt that he avoided the topic of race too much. I did not want him to harp on the fact that he is the first black President however I felt that he should of recognized the historical significance of the event a little more. To me it almost seemed that that he knew the significance and the people did but he didn’t really talk about it enough. Thats just my opinion about it, I felt that it was a really good speech however I was expecting something a little different. I would not have the same expectations for Sen. McCain because he is a different person and he obviously wouldn’t talk about race like I thought Obama should have. McCain I think wouldn’t have had such a “party” like Obama had. Obama’s acceptance speech was like no other acceptance speech in history. The amount of people that were there the stage and the visual effects all were different than they would have been if Mccain had won.

  17. Rachel Gerstein says:

    Both candidates ended the election in a civilized manner. The night before the 44th president was announced, both candidates gave enthusiastic speeches looking forward to the next day. They both gave strong speeches hoping to lock down any undecided votes and to assure the ones they already had. Once the President was announced, both candidates, mores so Obama, looked exhausted. Both of their speeches looked towards the future and was much more meaningful and serious than the night before.

    Surprisingly enough McCain ended his campaign congratulating Obama and giving a round about sort of apology for the way the election turned ugly. (cough because of him cough) He was respectful and mature about the results. He not only congratulated the democratic party for it’s win but added in his support for the winning party as well. McCain stressed that now, with a new president in office -both parties will be able to work together and help reunite the country. I found that a bit odd b/c when the Republican party was in office, the Democrats were having issues with getting their voice heard. But I digress… McCain showed a classy side of himself, which I had not seem very often during the race.

    Obama’s speech was awesome. If I didn’t have to explain myself in more detail I feel as though that would be the perfect sentence to describe it. He was motivational, giving me goosebumps multiple times. Although he looked exhausted, he did a great job of showing. He did not act coincided whatsoever but was more so thankful and honored to be elected the 44th President. He easily kept the attention of everyone watching. He spoke about his goal of making America ONE nation again. He again stressed his main message during the election of change-with his story of the 106 year-old woman.

    Both of the candidates gave respectful, appropriate speeches. I was ecstatic with the outcome of the election. My friends and I all jumped for joy when Obama was announced as our next president. I look forward to seeing how Obama/Biden change our nation, for the best, within the next four years.

  18. Alicia Grolbert says:

    Sen. McCain’s conclusion speech called for Americans to unite and cross party lines to work together to help solve the current economic crisis in America. He spoke about how monumental Obama being elected was, and he called for Americans to unite under Obama’s leadership. Obama kept his acceptance speech very general. He didn’t really go into detail about the issues America is facing. He gave a pleasant acceptance speech that he knew would be historic and re-watched for generations. Both speeches were civil unlike the campaigns both ran.

    McCain did a good job with his speech, but it was nowhere near as good as some of his campaign speeches or debates. Since he lost he went into the speech with a tone that said he had nothing left to loose. I thought he could have done a better job, but he lost that is a sad thing. I don’t blame him for being a little depressed in his speech. If Obama had lost I think he would have been even more disheartened than Sen. McCain. I think Obama would have had a much worse concession speech than McCain because he is younger and has not had nearly the amount of public speaking practice as Sen. McCain has.

    I thought Obama did an excellent job with the type of speech he had to give. He had to give a speech that would be re-played through out American history, and he did. He kept the topics general so that the speech would be more timeless and appealing in the future. He was eloquent and one could see his excitement. Overall it was a good speech. If McCain had won, his speech would be targeted toward the issues facing America, and it would really be a speech of much historic value. I think McCain would be just as excited as Obama. The historical value is what would make the speeches different.

  19. brian says:

    there are a number of ways in which both candidates make the switch from campaigning to giving a conclusion speech. i think the harshest differences were in McCain’s concession speech. he seemed to reprimand his voting base on a number of occasions, and seemed almost embarrassed at having to do so. it was as if he realized the profoundly negative nature and its contrast with his antipolitical attitude toward public servitude throughout his career. i also believe he was embarrassed about alot of the things that happened throughout his campaign. however, first and foremost i believe he was trying to save face more or less. he wanted the public to remember him as the man he had been, not what he had become as a result of his candidacy. Obama i think hit on the race issue a lot harder in his victory speech then he had throughout his campaign. on both side there was a very bipartisan message. both candidates showed a level of civility toward one another they had as of yet not shown.

    Mccain really exceeded my expectations in his concession speech. i truly thought that the candidacy had changed him. his speech really convinced me of the fact that running for office is a game and there is a clear projected end result that you are fighting toward. he had to do what he had to do. really this whole election cycle has taught me not to judge an individual by the nature of their candidacy. running for public office changes a person in the process, but i think mccain was able to bring a lot of people to the realization that he is still willing to approach things in a bipartisan manner and that he will still reach across the aisle.

    Obama’s victory speech was pretty much what i thought i would have seen. and after watching mccain’s speech i think that if Obama had lost his speech would have probably ended up looking a bit like mccain’s. it it interesting though because i think if obama had lost he would have still had a chance to run again in 2012. i wonder what sort of affect this would have had on the speech. he would have needed to be ever vigilant of that in any sort of concession speech.

  20. avanv8sa says:

    I believe that both candidates gave excellent final speeches for this campaign, regardless of whether they were the winner or loser. In terms of the transitition to the conclusion of the campaign, I agree with many of the comments above, and believe that Obama handled it a bit better. By the time of his last speech the night before the election, he was already drawing towards the end of campaign. His last speech acted as a summary of all that he had been through this campaign. By telling a story about the beginning of his campaign when he was not thought to be a likely candidiate, he showed voters how far they had already come, and rallied them together to show that they are going to go even farther on election day. It seems that most of of Obama’s speeches at rallies have similiar techniques-that is, he tells personal stories that allow him to relate to the voters and seem more ‘normal’. While he still did this in this speech, I think it was done in such a way that still made him seem approachable, but also showed voters that he was ready and that they had already come a long way. He sought to “fire up” the voters for the election the following day, just as the woman in the story did in the small South Carolina town. He no longer preaches about what he will necessarily do to change the country, but rather that it is time for that change that he has talked about for so long to take place and that the following day it would happen. The speech was not focused on necessarily garnering more support, because I feel like Obama knew that he had reached the people he was going to reach at this point. It was a personal speech that wasn’t full of policies and such. The speech was very motivational and got his supporters ready and excited for the election.

    Alternatively, McCain speech struck me as similar to many of his other speeches given, and it did not seem to point to a conclusion of the campaign. He did not stick to one idea or tactic throughout the speech, but he bounced around from one topic to another. It was like he was trying to cover all of his bases and desperately trying to gain a few more voters by informing them about his stance of issues and his past experience in politics. Overall, I felt like this made the speech less effective, because it came off as slightly desperate to me, like he felt as if he had to use every last bit of time to get people. While Obama rarely, if at all, mentioned McCain, McCain was still pointing out Obama’s flaws.

    When it came time for McCain’s concession speech, I thought that he did a great job, and it actually exceeded my expectations. McCain never blew me away with a speech during the campaign, and in my opinion this was probably the best one he gave. I was pleased to see that he was so respectful of Obama, but I honestly wouldn’t expect anything less of the candidate that loses the race for the presidency. I also appreciated the fact that he looked rather annoyed when his supporters kept booing whenever he said Obama’s name. I feel like that made him seem a lot more like the man that a lot of people knew him as before the campaign got ugly. He seemed genuinely grateful to have received this opportunity to have gotten this far. He spent a lot of time thanking his supporters and reassuring them that this loss was not their fault. It made me kind of sad when he blamed himself for the loss, it just seemed a bit harsh, even if it was true. He also devoted a lot of time to trying to unite the members of his party to come together and get behind the president elect, even if they disagree with him on some issues because he is still our president and they would want the same of Obama supporters if McCain had won. Overall, I think McCain came off very well and appeared to be at peace with the fact that they had lost a really difficult fight, but had done all that they felt they could. He did a very nice job and it seemed like he might be starting to revert back to the McCain so many Americans thought they knew before the election really took off.

    I was also very pleased with Obama’s acceptance speech. It also surpassed my expectations. We have all come to expect great speeches from Obama because of his eloquence and likeability, but I still feel that this was his best one as well. He still came off as a very approachable man by talking about his family and his daughters getting a dog, but his demeanor also seemed to change a bit, in that he did seem more serious during this speech as he spoke about the difficult things that he will face as president and that we will face as a country. He also spent an appropriate amount of time thanking everyone involved in the campaign and congratulating Senator McCain on running a tough campaign. He also tried to gain the respect, if not the support of McCain voters, saying that he will make every effort to work with them so that we can come to decisions we can all agree on. I think this is really important because it shows that he values the opinions of these people just as much as those of the people that voted for him. The shear number of people that were in Chicago for this speech made it even more dramatic, and in my view, effective. I think it was hard to not get caught up in the moment even watching it on TV because of the way he spoke, what he spoke about, and how he related to the general public. If his handling of this eventis any indicator of how he will do once in office, I look forward to seeing the change he promises.

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