Rhetorical centrism in the presidential campaigns 1960-1972

Trigger, Allen Gillispie, Department of Speech Communication, University of Virginia
Jablonski, Carol, University of Virginia
Sullivan, John, As-English-Eng Lit Ops, University of Virginia

Any rhetorical study of the speeches of presidential candidates has relevance to the discipline of political science. A major concept which. has dominated the study of American politics is that of the political center. Candidates from this view must shape their appeals to satisfy moderates without offending either liberals or conservatives. However, an examination of the campaigns: of 1960, 1964, 1968, and 1972 reveals that candidates do not simply appeal to the middle. Instead I found that candidates move rhetorically between the poles on the political spectrum rather than attempting to either create and to justify an alternative to either political extreme. In order to work with these speeches I realized a new concept was necessary to explain what occurs in campaign rhetoric. I thus developed the idea of a rhetorical center. This thesis is intended as a development of that concept.

MA (Master of Arts)
Presidents -- United States -- Election, Campaign speeches -- United States, United States -- Politics and government -- 1945-1989
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