PEORIA Project Rhetorical Recaps

GSPM Associate Professor and Research Director Michael Cornfield breaks down the relevant themes and messages from each stage of the presidential race and the Trump presidency. These recaps are also cross-posted on the homepage of the Professional Speechwriters Association

The Antithesis Candidate

Scott deftly blended three modes of popular oratory—preaching, cheerleading and motivational speaking—into an elixir that was nationalistic without being nativist. Read the full recap here.

House Democrats and Republicans, In High Fidelity

The Democratic and Republican parties presented a meaningful contrast at the delayed start of the 118th Congress. Set aside the histrionics and what the public got at the end of the week were two speeches, January 9, that disclosed with succinct clarity who the new House leaders are as politicians, the agenda each intends to pursue, and their relative capacities to deliver. Read the full recap here.

Liz Cheney Lays Claim to a Legacy

With the shrewd acquiescence of the Democrats, ranking Republican member Liz Cheney has starred in the televised proceedings of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. Read the full recap here.

The "Enough" Speech

A presidential eulogy in Uvalde TX seemed obligatory, but Biden refrained. He travelled there last Sunday (May 29) with the First Lady and met with families of the victims without giving a speech as he had in Buffalo twelve days earlier. His one public comment in Uvalde replied to a chant of “Do something” that arose from a crowd outside the church where he attended a service. “We will,” he said. Read the full recap here.

When Words Fail

One week ago Joe and Jill Biden travelled to Buffalo to deliver remarks two days after a lone gunman killed ten people and wounded three in a supermarket. The alleged murderer used a Bushmaster AR15 rifle and wore a helmet camera to livestream his rampage. His express motive, as contained in a racist and anti-Semitic screed he is thought to have posted online, was to stop “The Great Replacement” of White (Christians) from positions of status and power in America. Read the full recap

Zelenskyy Appeals to America

Volodymyr Zelenskyy continues on his epic transformative journey in compressed time: from comedian to comedian playing a president to president to shakedown subject to wartime leader and world-class rhetor. Read the full recap here.

An Exasperated Man at the Bully Pulpit

It is now clear that President Biden’s pair of mid-January speeches amount to a rhetorical misfire. His poll ratings wallow at a record low for a first-year president (excepting Trump), and the voting rights/election integrity legislation he sought did not come to a vote in the Senate. Read the full recap here.

Biden Big and Small

On, under the “Speeches and Remarks” tab, President Biden’s recent oratory about the collapse of the Afghani government and military force has been categorized as “remarks.” The six entries spanning the second half of August may be scrolled to amid remarks about bilateral meetings with Ukrainian president Zelensky and Israeli Prime Minister Bennett and a welcome to the WNBA champion Seattle Storm. The most recent and probably not the last assemblage of remarks resembled a formal address in its staging. Read the full recap here.

Acknowledging Defeat

When a US mission goes awry and the enemy prevails it falls to the president to address the situation in a speech. In these rare and painful circumstances the international audience is as important as the domestic. Allies, antagonists, and neutrals in governments and among citizenries take measure of American resolve and await word of any forthcoming changes in the nation’s standards of diplomatic, humanitarian, and military engagement. Read the full recap here.

The Six Trillion Dollar Man

This was not a normal State of the Union Address in its middle of spring timing or, due to COVID-19 and post-riot restrictions, the size of its audience. Attendance was limited to one/eighth the norm, a strange sight somewhat familiarized to those who watch televised sports and awards shows. But the speech was in its purpose a report on the state of the union, an exercise in mood and agenda-setting. Read the full recap here.

Booster Shot

Joe Biden made appealing for national unity look easy in his first prime-time presidential address. He sought refuge in the myth of US supremacy in technological progress, a claim greatly enhanced by the miraculous creation of a vaccine and the landing of the latest NASA rover on Mars. He gave his countrymen and women a vision both realistic and romantic, that of backyard barbecues this coming Fourth of July. He never said the words “Democratic” or “Republican.” Read the full recap here

Not Fade Away

Donald Trump chose to make a comeback speech six weeks after leaving office. He returned to the public stage intent on maintaining control of the Republican party—its candidates and agenda for 2022—and opening the door to his possible return run for president in 2024. He also sought to affirm his connections to supporters whom he could no longer reach and hear from directly through social media. Read the full recap here.

A Collection of Abstract Nouns and Colloquialisms

It’s unfair to hold Joe Biden to the oratorical standards of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, no matter how much the crisis circumstances incline us to make the comparisons. “The better angels of our nature,” “fear itself” –one should not hope for let alone expect phrases like that. The closest the 46th president came, to my ear, was when he called for an end to this “uncivil war,” and his early line declaring this “democracy’s day.” Read the full recap here.

Rescue and Recovery

The new guy has begun his job. Biden’s two speeches late last week had no frills, no flourishes, no surprises (as in departures from his published campaign plans), and, most impressively, only one reference to the tumult which may have kept you from noticing their delivery. Read the full recap here.

Not a Great Speech - But a Good One

Joe Biden could not rely on custom to smooth his way through a victory speech. It was not safe to assemble a crowd of family, friends, and supporters behind him. He could not refer to a congratulatory call he had just taken from his defeated opponent, who was alleging fraud and gearing up to contest the results. Biden had to improvise. A last mile of road into the White House must be built while treading on it, and he had arrived at the point of both campaign debarkation and succession to official power. Read the full recap here.

It Was a Big Speech

One reason it is never wise to label a speech the biggest of someone’s life is that bigness often creates situations that will be even bigger. We did not have to wait long for that to happen to Joe Biden, he of fifty years in the public eye. Scarcely eleven days after Biden delivered his nomination acceptance speech, a major test arose for him, his party, and the nation. Biden has been baited by Trump and questioned by others as to when he would “emerge from his basement” to speak from a location not close to his Wilmington home. And the president, having declared the White House his home in his nomination acceptance speech, has reacted to unrest in Kenosha, WI, and Portland, OR by fomenting vigilantism, something no president in the modern era and not even George C. Wallace in his ornery days ever did. Read the full recap here.

Exaggeration Wrapped in Grandiosity

Last night in a speech that ran well over an hour President Trump made his argument for re-election: America faces destruction, but I have done a great job. The setting for this see-saw speech was intended to overpower the senses. More than a thousand guests sat on the White House lawn to look up to the president on the portico in front of a profuse display of American flags. Some of those guests were federal employees from the Border Patrol and Tennessee Valley Authority, who were asked to stand and take a bow. This seems to flout the Hatch Act, but as White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows observed, “No one outside the Beltway really cares.” He’s probably right about that. Read the full recap here.

Distorted Reality, Distractingly Delivered

Last night Vice-President Pence spread the word about Trump, Biden, and recent events in a thirty-seven minute nomination acceptance speech. After noting the historic setting Pence accepted the nomination and thanked his wife, children, and mother, all in attendance. In keeping with the main theme of the night Pence took care to single out the presence of heroes. No masks were evident and the audience was seated with insufficient distancing. Pence rhapsodized about how Trump sees America and what he has learned watching him work. The president has, he said, kept his word to the American people. Crushed ISIS. Assassinated Soleimani. Created Space Force. Appointed conservative judges. Enabled the marketplace to create jobs. All true and worthy of mention. Read the full recap here.

A Stunning Note of Grace

First Lady Melania Trump faced a low bar for her speech. At the last GOP convention, in 2016, she was accused of plagiarism (Trump circles attributed the lifted passages to an errant aide). Her do-good program bears the awkward name “Be Best” and her husband violates its bidding to curb cyberbullying with definitive regularity. She is best known for making statements through fashion (the “I Don’t Really Care Do U?” jacket she wore to the border) and gesture (slapping away her husband’s hand). To top it off, Michelle Obama (the plagiarized one) and Jill Biden are hard acts to follow. Read the full recap here.

The Best Speech of the Night

Imagine a convention where two of the most prominent first-night speakers try out their candidacies for four years ahead. It’s a standard practice which seems strange because of the current context. But that’s what Nikki Haley and Donald Trump Jr. delivered last night. Tim Scott, who followed them, also gave a traditional speech but seemed less ambitious. Read the full recap here.

Joe Is Very Much Awake

After thirty-two years of trying Joe Biden accepted at last his party’s nomination for president. He did so with insistent optimism. His tone was evident right out of the gate, when he quoted Ella Baker, a Black, female civil rights era activist (and here a proxy for Kamala Harris): “Give people light and they will find a way.” Read the full recap here.

The Revered Constitution and the Beloved Community

And so it came to pass in a procession of speeches steeped in historical consciousness that, one hundred years and one day after the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote, two women who had reached the heights of elected officialdom and the first Black president set the stage for the first woman of color to occupy a spot on a presidential ticket. Read the full recap here.

Head of the Class

As a format, the convention speech for a would-be First Lady generally confines the speechwriter and speaker to off-policy grounds. Yes, once in office First Ladies often adopt a cause as a quasi-policy concern, from Lady Bird Johnson’s beautification through Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” to Michelle Obama’s exercise and gardening endeavors. But during the convention, the spouse of the challenger has no such territory to claim. Except in this case, Jill Biden—Dr. Jill Biden, as the campaign prefers to call her—has a property lien on pre-college education. It is her profession. She prepares lessons. She grades papers. Read the full recap here.

Obama to Bentsen to Fierce

After a long montage of video remarks, roundtables, songs, and super cuts that felt like the ton of previews and ads one sees at movie theaters, the first virtual political convention fell into a recognizable rhythm of speeches. The speeches ran four minutes or less except at the end, where Michelle Obama was accorded eighteen for the keynote address. Read the full recap here.

Leadership from Atlanta

Political eulogies re-thicken and re-fasten community ties frayed by the untimely deaths of its people.  Read the full recap here.

You've Got a Friend

We’ve lost hold of the anchoring and orienting forms by which we connect to politics. Guess who to the rescue, for Democrats at least. Read the full recap here.

The Big Subtext

There was something for President Trump to talk about Tuesday night. Something big and current and pertinent to the state of the union. No, not the Iowa Caucus vote debacle, although that might have been referenced. Something...else. Read the full recap here.

Making the Real Hypothetical

What kind of defense attorney never mentions his client by name in a speech lasting over an hour? One delivering a professorial lecture in a unique court, that’s what kind. Read the full recap here.

Making the Hypothetical Real: Schiff's Viral Close from Jan 23.

There is a lot of speechmaking going on this week in the Senate Chamber, with more to come next week. I want to call to your attention to the last nine minutes of chief impeachment manager Adam Schiff’s closing argument on Thursday night. It was exceptionally well crafted and delivered. It boiled the case for the president’s immediate removal by the Senate, as opposed to in the next election by the (electoral) voters, down to its essence. Read the full recap here.

She's Good at Public Speaking, Too

The political prodigy known to the world by her initials before she turns 30 has made her reputation through videos, congressional testimony, and tweeting: @AOC has 5.5 million followers. This weekend Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez delivered a short speech endorsing and introducing the return of Bernie Sanders to the presidential campaign trail, an infusion of youthful energy for a man who had just recovered from a heart attack but, to be fair, already benefited from a prodigious following among young people and plenty of energy on his own. Read the full recap here.

The Democrats Approach Heartbreak Hill

We’re exactly six months away from the Iowa Caucuses, and almost one year away from the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. To judge by the polls, the first two rounds of debates have had little effect on the race. Read the full recap here.

One Last Run

From the era of rugged heroes and big-sunset happy endings, his hair trimmed, his jaw thrust forward and (in outdoor photos) rocking aviator glasses, Joe Biden finally strode onto the stage to make one last run at the presidency. At a cultural moment dominated by the superhero epics “Game of Thrones” and “Avengers: Endgame,” Biden has donned a veritable Captain America costume. In his candidacy declaration video he said he was running for president to rescue the country from Donald Trump and, well, make America great again in a different sense of the word “America.” Read the full recap here.

The Candidate from La La Land

Hundreds of persons file to run for president each election cycle. The cutoff line between serious contenders and fringe candidates can be fuzzy. A few days ago Marianne Williamson, who declared her candidacy way back in late January, qualified for the Democratic presidential debates. So here in retrospect is a recap of her speech. Read the full recap here.

Wrinkles in Time

It’s been said far too many times that Republicans fall in line while Democrats fall in love but holy moly here we go again. Beto O’Rourke has given way to Pete Buttigieg in (sorry) a heartbeat. Mayor Pete has packed his own nickname to the Trump Corral, and his previous obscurity has enhanced the excitement registering in his soaring metrics. Read the full recap here.

Soulful and Solo

“Justice” was the nominal theme of Senator Cory Booker’s formal speech declaring his candidacy for president. A big “Justice For All” sign dominated the long-shot view of the venue, a city plaza; rally attendees hoisted and flapped “Justice for All” placards; the sign on the speaker’s lectern asked viewers to text “Justice.” But the speech had two other themes: love and Newark. How would Booker harmonize them? Read the full recap here.

Beto Reflects on his Big Day

I don’t know whether Beto O’Rourke keeps a diary. Seems old-fashioned, but you never know. If he does, here is what may have raced through his mind and onto an audio recording app on his phone at the end of the day last Saturday, after he gave the customary presidential campaign declaration speech before a live crowd. I have not attempted to mimic his speech or writing style. Read the full recap here.

To His Face

Of all the days for Attorney General Barr to release his summary of the Mueller Report, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand could not have wanted March 24. That news all but eliminated coverage of her announcement event. Who could have predicted such a media wipeout on a Sunday? Read the full recap here.

Oh Yes. He's Running, Too.

An affable demeanor. A capacity for eloquence. One career foot in business and one in government. Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats! These were the main assets former Colorado governor and Denver mayor John Hickenlooper brought to his declaration speech stage last week. Read the full recap here.

The Rarity of the Front-Running Protest Candidate

Bernie Sanders was the first 2016 candidate of note to return for 2020. Apart from the president, he may be the only one. So what is new and what remains the same? Read the full recap here.

Green Lantern

The sun was out, announced Washington State governor Jay Inslee as he took the stage, a good sign for a campaign with the slogan “Our Moment” and a singular devotion to the issue of climate change. But since the venue was inside a solar energy factory instead of outside, we couldn’t see that it was indeed “our hour to shine.” Read the full recap here.

Geography Lesson

Two weeks ago, in Boom Island Park, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar took the stage capless and gloveless amid a driving snowfall with the wind chill temperature in the single digits. She spoke of the weather conditions with a cheerful defiance meant to signal toughness.  Read the full recap here.


There’s no nice way to say this: Elizabeth Warren sputtered, lurched, and fishtail skidded her way through her presidential candidacy announcement process. The untidy speech and the elongated rollout before and after its delivery may not prove detrimental to her candidacy. Warren possesses a strong campaign organization, a forceful and at times inspirational speaking style, and an exceptionally well-developed, titanic, and sprawling domestic policy agenda which is thematically and programmatically unified around the corrosive effects of economic inequality. But she introduced herself as though she were driving a flivver. Read the full recap here.

The Telethon Host vs. the Women in White

The chief value of the State of the Union address (SOTU) resides in how it brings the top officials of the three branches of national government together under one roof. We pay attention to see how well the president, the House Speaker, and those seated before them on both sides of the literal aisle get along. The items on the president’s “laundry list” of recited issue positions garner the bulk of the commentary, but the agenda is of secondary importance to the performances that signify relationship status, so crucial to the capacity of a power-divided government to function. And while gestures and looks have always been more accessible to audience interpretation than issue details, their primacy has increased in recent years thanks to high-definition television and web streaming. This event is thus first and foremost an exercise in political theater. Read the full recap here.  

A New Happy Warrior

Kamala Harris enjoys campaigning. She laughed frequently and heartily during her thirty-five minute announcement address. She basked in the cheers that arose after she stated that “we have foreign powers infecting the White House like malware.” (“Malware” gets a big crowd reaction? Gotta be the Bay Area.) The cheers lingered. Harris’s smile ripened into a grin and then a full cackle of delight. Her laughter also punctuated a video of her musical playlist released earlier in the week. Read the full recap here.

West Side Story

This past Saturday Julian Castro, as his name appears on Google searches, delivered the 2020 cycle’s first presidential announcement speech in front of an assembled crowd. Castro’s campaign graphics spell his first name in white with a blue accent acute over the “a”: Julián. When Google doesn’t get your name right, you have a ways to go as a candidate. Read the full recap here.


Word-pictures painted by President Trump in his brief address last night evoked familiar scenes from horror, crime, and reality melodramas. His argument revolved around what might be termed “eye-worms.” Just as musical jingles and themes insinuate themselves through our ears into our memories, there to be summoned for years, so, too, do stock shots from staged scenes in countless movies and television series. Read the full recap here.

Collins v. Murkowski

Susan Collins asked America to take the long view in her floor speech last Friday explaining her vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination. That makes sense, given that it is a lifetime appointment for him (age 53) and a vote that will be associated with the rest of her tenure in office as well. She is 65 and up next for re-election in 2020. Read the full recap here.

Modeling Behavior at a Sordid Time

After hearing Judge Kavanaugh choke up talking about his children and then, at a different point in the hearings, fulminate about the Clintons, I grew curious about what, if anything, Chelsea Clinton has been tweeting. After all, the very sort of sexually explicit talk to score political points that is making us all ashamed to be American citizens right now --all, I dare say, including Democrats and Republicans, albeit with different people in mind-- was embraced by Kavanaugh when he worked on the Starr Report investigating Bill Clinton's behavior. Read the full recap here.

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

I, Trump

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