GSPM Associate Professor and Research Director Michael Cornfield breaks down the relevant themes and messages from each stage of the 2016 presidential race and the Trump presidency. These recaps are also cross-posted on the homepage of the Professional Speechwriters Association.
Faith of His Daughter
It must fall to commentators more steeped than I am in Greek and Shakespearean tragedy to draw out the classical contours of an occasion where the first daughter, marooned in political exile, wept in fury while the first daughter in power sat in the audience. Such was the scene as Meghan McCain eulogized her father on September 1, 2018. Read the full recap here.
Tillerson in the Tempest
Last week, two months after being fired as Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson broke his public silence and delivered the commencement address at the Virginia Military Institute. In an odd hybrid of speech forms, Tillerson wrapped harsh yet oblique criticisms of his time in public service inside what is traditionally a celebratory and inspiring charge to future servicemen and women. Read the full recap here.
A Boost for the Witness
The integrity of election campaigns is a matter of great national importance, as is the security and privacy of citizens’ personal data. So it seemed fitting that a fortnight ago Congressional leadership staged two days of hearings starring the biggest name in corporate social media and featuring nearly one-fifth of the 115th’s membership as questioners. This was gonna be big.
Yeah, well. The trivial yet irresistible meme of Mark Zuckerberg sitting on a booster cushion proved apt. Read the full recap here.
I Have A Dream About Guns
In what seems like an unprecedented event, a score of teenagers took to an historic American pulpit to call for voter and government action against gun violence. Adults remained offstage as the teens spoke to an assembly who had marched to the Capitol end of the National Mall, just beneath (and in camera view of) the spot where presidents are inaugurated. The event occurred in coordination with marches in 832 cities around the world, in every US state and all but 45 of the 435 Congressional districts. It was timed to coincide with the start of Spring Break for many school districts. Estimates vary, but it seemed that as many people attended as at Trump’s 2017 inauguration, but fewer than the Women’s March the following day. Read the full recap here.
Dream On: The 2018 SOTU Address and Response
Since 1913, Presidents have used the State Of The Union Address to extol their administration’s accomplishments and prescribe an agenda for Congress. In our system, these are not small things. Congress has no Prime Minister to perform these narrative and strategic functions. Presidential persuasion can impart a sense of direction.
Since 1966, the party out of the presidency has selected one of its members to deliver a televised response that immediately follows the presidential address. These designated responders have often been subjected to a barrage of ridicule normally reserved for Vice-Presidents. Nevertheless, politicians accept the assignment. Read the full recap here.
What made #MeToo a uniquely powerful hashtag? Our research provides evidence-based answers.
MeToo is an old idea: that survivors, sharing their stories of sexual harassment and abuse, can change society for the better. But last fall, in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein and others in Hollywood, media and other industries, this idea went viral in a way that, instinctively, felt different. Read in the Washington Post.
"Oprah for President"
When an athlete delivers a big win to a “nation” of sports team fans, signs appear at the next home game bearing that athlete’s name followed by the words “for president.”
Oprah Winfrey hit a grand slam last night in front of her professional community. The signs popped up in social media. They read “Oprah 2020” but say, in effect, “Wow, great speech!” Read the full recap here.
Senator Franken Flunks His Leadership Test
In the space of three weeks Senator Al Franken (DFL-MN) plummeted in public standing from a presidential mentionable to a disgraced official on the verge of departure. Some blame his Democratic colleagues for abandoning him in the interest of political expediency. A review of Franken’s remarks indicates that the bulk of the responsibility belongs with him. Read the full recap here.
Powers of the Funny Pulpit
In the last four days we have been reminded twice that late-night talk show hosts have the power to deliver important political speeches. Their humorous takes on news and newsmakers affect public perceptions. Mostly the hosts confirm the biases of their fans. Now and then, however, bits from their routines make news on their own, and the wider distribution of their remarks through YouTube and journalistic channels can rattle the reputations of government officials. GSPM Research Director Prof. Michael Cornfield explores how two recent routines are shaping the political discourse. Read the full recap here.
A Fractured Transition
Breaking from Inaugural Addresses past, President Donald Trump chose to deliver an inaugural address that sought to encourage and invigorate his followers, rather than attempt to invite all Americans along on a new journey. Whether this tactic will succeed over the long run is an open question, but GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield discusses how it is working so far. Read the full recap here.
The Final Episode of "The Presidency, with Barack Obama"
GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield breaks down Barack Obama's final address to the nation as a sitting president. Packaged as his final campaign rally the president touched on the past, and gave hints about what he will do and what he would like to see in the future. Read the full recap here.
Over and Out
The final speeches of the 2016 campaign are over and we now move on to the next chapter of the republic. GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield details the key moments from the Trump acceptance, Clinton concession, and Obama addresses earlier this week and what they mean for the future. Read the full recap here.
Inside an Etch-a-Sketch
Last night's result was arguably the biggest upset in American presidential politics, and it appears that for the fifth time one candidate will have won the electoral vote and another the popular vote. Now President-elect Donald Trump will need to, in his words "work together and unify our great country." How it got to this point will be debated for weeks, if not decades, but for now GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield shares his preliminary observations of the rhetoric Trump employed in his first address as the next occupant of the White House. Read the full recap here.
Entertainer First, American Second
In the final presidential debate, Republican nominee Donald Trump was the subject of yet another October surprise. This one, that he would not commit to the results of the election but rather "keep you in suspense" was according to GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield, a stunning unforced error that provided a permission structure for waverers and undecided voters to abandon Trump. What does that mean for the November 8 and the days ahead? Read the full recap here.
Halloween Arrives Early... and Continues
The second presidential debate launched as the presidential campaign hit its decency nadir with the release of a hot-mic "Sextober Surprise" recording of Donald Trump discussing his actions towards certain women. The tape turned into a social and mainstream media sensation, and the #TrumpTapes hashtag has become the most used of election 2016. Following the debate, Trump took what had already been an unorthodox rhetorical strategy into the conspiracy zone. First lady Michelle Obama "went high" and delivered one of the most memorable speeches of the campaign cycle that included a strong takedown of Trump (without ever mentioning his name) and a glowing endorsement of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Read the full recap here.
[Shakes His Head]
Tuesday night's vice presidential debate did not focused on the participants on stage, their parties, or policy prescriptions, but rather on the continued quest to drag either Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's or Republican nominee Donald Trump's favorability into single digits. GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield argues that Clinton's running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine, did a good job of generating viral video clips for the campaign, but that Pence more than held his own through several rhetorical and performative devices. Read the full recap here.
A Losing Temperament
One week later the first presidential debate looks to be one of the key moments of the 2016 election. GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield examines how Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton set rhetorical traps and framed the debate in order to frame the coverage of the event for days to come. Of course, Republican nominee Donald Trump didn't do himself any favors by repeatedly walking right into her attacks. What comes next for the two campaigns before the next presidential debate? Read the full recap here.
...To Be Continued
The pundits and social media seem to have counted the first debate as a win for Hillary Clinton. See how GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield scores the first debate, and what each side might do to get an edge in the next contest. Read the full recap here.
Going Positive in the First Debate
Monday night's presidential debate offers each candidate an opportunity to rise above the day to day combat of the campaign and reassure a nervous nation. Whether Trump or Clinton takes GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield's advice remains an open question. Read the full recap here.
Hillary Clinton Returns
After taking a few days off to recover from pneumonia, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton returned to the stump Thursday to adjust her persona, message, and expectations ahead of the presidential debates in the weeks ahead. GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield assesses whether Clinton stuck the landing on her bounce back and how she can continue to "power through." Read the full recap here.
Gary Johnson's Blown Opportunity
As a third party candidate, you only get one shot, so did Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson miss his chance with a foreign policy gaffe during a television news interview? Could one misstep from Johnson doom him when one of the major party nominees regularly traffics in exaggerations and falsehoods? GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield explores how Johnson has defined himself, and how he has been defined in this race. Read the full recap here.
Pseudo-Summit Sucker Punch
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto invited Republican nominee Donald Trump to Mexico for a meeting. It was a boon for Trump, who was able to use their mano a mano meeting and press avail to present a more sober and responsible side in the Mexican capital by day, and score some political points that night back across the border in Arizona. GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield outlines how Trump has managed to make the border a top issue during this campaign. Read the full recap here.
Pivoting Strategy and Tactics
Republican nominee Donald Trump has started to make his shift from the primary to the general election, and with he has executed a series of pivots. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is hoping the conversation pivots away from the Clinton Foundation. GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield details how each side is making their move. Read the full recap here.
Clinton Wins the Convention Fortnight
GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield says the DNC was an effective event for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton both on television and online. Dr. Cornfield breaks down the data and shows how the Democrats were able to gain more engagement for their event. Read the full recap here.
Plundered Emails and Parental Love
The first night of the Democratic National Convention is in the books, with a speech for the ages from first lady Michelle Obama. Despite the party's best efforts, there is still a division between some supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and delegates for presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton. GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield sorts through the highs and lows of Monday's festivities. Read the full recap here.
Tim Kaine Shows How It's Done
In an election cycle that has been over the top to say the least, Sen. Tim Kaine, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's pick for vice president, was able to deliver a debut speech that advanced strategic goals for the campaign. That he did it with a smile, a seemingly rare commodity in an increasingly bitter campaign, was just an added bonus. GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield has the entire recap here.
On the final night of the Republican National Convention Trump presented himself as the one candidate in the race that can fix a bleak and broken nation. GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield detected the notes of dictators past, and discusses Trump's promises for his possible presidency. Read the full recap here.
All Gall Has Divided the Republican Party into Three Parts
The third night of the Republican National Convention saw the divisions within the Republican party laid bare. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's non-endorsement of Republican nominee Donald Trump had the convention buzzing, and delivered a compelling climax for Thursday's speech from the Donald. GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield explores the rhetoric from top to bottom from Cleveland. Read the full recap here.
Over the Top
The second night of the Republican National Convention was supposed to be centered around "Make America Work Again." Instead, the program was focused almost entirely on going after presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield analyzes the rhetoric from the GOP on the night it made Donald Trump the Republican nominee for president. Read the full recap here.
Blue Lives Matter
GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield recaps the first night of the Republican National Convention centered around the "Make America Safe Again" national security theme. Cornfield is attending the event inside the Q, giving you an "on the ground" report. Read the entire recap here.
Voice to Voice Combat
GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield discusses the dueling speeches from the two presidential candidates, each of which highlighted the other's lack of presidential qualifications. Cornfield says be prepared for an ALL CAPS summer campaign season. Read the entire recap here.
The Millstone, the Milestone, and the Mischief Maker
The general election field for the 2016 race for the White House appears set, and it's one for the history books. That doesn't mean Sen. Bernie Sanders is going to give up the fight though. Meanwhile, Businessman and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump managed to stick (mostly) to the script, while still unleashing personal attacks on his general election foe. GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield discusses Hillary Clinton's historic march to the top the Democratic ticket, Sen. Bernie Sanders' pledge to continue, and Trump's latest broadsides. Read the entire recap here.
"Dangerous Incoherence" ... And Ignorance
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton gave her first speech aimed directly at the general election matchup against Donald Trump in San Diego. The speech, which painted the businessman as wholly unfit to be commander in chief, was well received in the room, but will it resonate in the weeks and months ahead? GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield looks for answers. Read the entire recap here.
Presumptive Republican Nominee Donald Trump addressed the National Rifle Association conference while Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton held an event one day later with the mother of Trayvon Martin and other victims of gun violence. GSPM Associate Professor and Research Director Michael Cornfield breaks down the rhetoric from the two candidates. Read the entire recap here.
Indiana Primary Night Speeches
Businessman Donald Trump defeaTED his last serious rival on the path to the Republican nomination Tuesday night. GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield breaks down what opportunities and obstacles lie ahead for the de facto GOP nominee. Read the entire recap here.
Northeast Corridor Primary Night Speeches
As the Democratic and Republican frontrunners look to be on a glide path to their respective nominations, GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield looks at how each side is turning its messages towards the general election. Read the entire recap here.
New York Primaries: Demeanor and Process
GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield discusses the change in tone from Republican front-runner Donald Trump and the leading Democratic candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. What does this rhetorical shift mean for the rest of the primary process? Read the entire recap here.
Democratic Debate: Knock His/Her Block Off!
The gloves are off, as they say, in the Democratic presidential nominating contest. Thursday's debate was just the latest example of two people, who as a sports announcer would say "really don't like each other," swinging and hoping to connect with a knockout blow. GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield delivers the play by play. Read the entire recap here.
Brussels Attack: Security in Society and in the Ballot Box
All the presidential candidates kept their comments on the Brussels attacks non-controversial, but each attack forces safety and security up the list of priorities for voters. Additionally, what could cause the next balloting dilemma? GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield outlines the possibilities. Read the entire recap here.
March 15 Primaries: Kasich Keeps on Believin' and Rubio Departs
Republican candidate John Kasich notched his first primary victory of the cycle in Ohio, where he currently serves as governor. Florida Senator Marco Rubio lost his home state badly and suspended his campaign. GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield breaks down what these two events mean for the GOP nomination moving forward. Read the entire memo here.
Republican Field: I of the Storm
After a whirlwind of victory speeches, debates, and a Donald Trump campaign rally that descended into rancor and violence, GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield looks back on the week that was in the 2016 election. Read the full memo here.
Democratic Debate: Confrontational Moderators, Clinton as Nixon, and Sanders's Upraised Index Finger
Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took to the debate stage yet again Wednesday night and according to GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield each side has something to cheer, and to worry about. Read the full memo here.
Democratic Debate: Holds Barred
GSPM Associate Professor and Research Director Michael Cornfield looks at the Democratic presidential debate in Flint, Michigan where policy attacks were in but personal attacks were out. Read the full memo here.
Republican Debate: Three Republican Leaders Bid Seven No Trump
The Republican establishment has now coalesced around an "anyone but Trump" platform but will it be too late to make a difference? GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield discusses the latest GOP campaign strategy. Read the full memo here.
Super Tuesday Results: What now?
The Republican and Democratic candidates share their interpretation of the Super Tuesday results. GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield breaks down which campaigns have dreams that could turn into reality. Read the full memo here.
Super Tuesday Debate: Rubio on the Attack
What were the pros and cons of dumping out the Donald Trump opposition research binder on the debate stage in Texas? And why hasn't anyone taken on Donald Trump head on before now? GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield tackles those questions and more in the latest recap. Read the memo here.
Nevada Republicans: Simple Words, Complex Words
GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield provides a preview of the upcoming Republican debate. Read the memo here.
Primary and Caucus Results in South Carolina and Nevada: Victory and Concession Speeches
GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield presents the campaign themes and messages from the winners and losers of the latest round of early nomination contests. The PEORIA Project also says goodbye to the candidacy of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Read the memo here.
Democratic Debate: Money in Politics with Clinton and Sanders
GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield analyzes the presence of money in politics as a frontline campaign issue. Read the memo here.
Republican Debate: Anger Man: The Legend of Donald Trump
The tone at the Republican debate on February 13 was tense to say the least. What does it mean for the campaign going forward and is there space to create an alternative message. GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield explores the possibilities. Read the memo here.
New Hampshire Primary: Highlights from Primary Night
GSPM Research Director and Professor Michael Cornfield discusses the messages and themes from the winners and losers of the New Hampshire Democratic and Republican primaries. Read the memo here.
Republican Debate: Rubio's Rubicon?
GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield discusses Republican Sen. Marco Rubio's debate performance as well as the other candidates' attempts to thwart his rising poll numbers. Read the memo here.
Democratic Debate: What is a Progressive?
GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield breaks down one of the key points of cntention in this year's Democratic primary. Read the memo here.
Democratic Candidate Town Hall: Rhetorical Recap
GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield recaps the CNN town hall and outlines how each candidate is faring in front of the public. Read the memo here.
Iowa Caucuses: Messages to Monitor
GSPM Research Director and Associate Professor Michael Cornfield has outlined and analyzed the presidential candidates' speeches after Monday night's caucus result. He's found several messages that campaigns may be employing as the contest moves on to the first in the nation primary state of New Hampshire. Read the memo here.