Campaign '96: A Functional Analysis of Acclaiming, Attacking, and Defending

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Praeger, Jan 1, 1998 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 264 pages
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Benoit, Blaney, and Pier apply the functional theory of political campaign discourse to the 1996 presidential campaign. When a citizen casts a vote, he or she makes a decision about which candidate is preferable. There are only three types of rhetorical strategies for persuading voters to believe a candidate is the better choice: acclaiming or self-praise, attacking or criticizing an opponent, and defending or responding to attacks. As they illustrate, acclaims, if accepted by the audience, make the candidate appear better. Attacks can make the opponent seem worse, improving the source's apparent preferability. If attacked, a candidate can attempt to restore--or prevent--lost credibility by defending against that attack. As Benoit, Blaney, and Pier point out, the functional theory of political communication is relatively new, and their book illustrates it with a detailed analysis of the most recent presidential campaign. One of the major strengths of the study is the variety of message forms examined: television spots, debates, talk radio appearances, keynote speeches, acceptance speeches, speeches by spouses, radio addresses, and free television time remarks. It also examines all three parts of the campaign--primary, nominating conventions, and general campaign. This comprehensive analysis of the '96 presidential campaign will be of considerable use to students, scholars, and other researchers dealing with contemporary American electioneering.

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Contents

A Functional Theory of Political Campaign
3
Acclaiming Attacking and Defending
23
How We Analyzed Campaign 96 Messages
45
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About the author (1998)

WILLIAM L. BENOIT is Professor of Communication at the University of Missouri. Benoit has published extensively in political communication, including The Clinton Scandals and the Politics of Image Restoration, with Joseph R. Blaney (Praeger, 2001).

JOSEPH R. BLANEY is Assistant Professor of Communication at Illinois State University, Normal. Among his previous published volumes are The Clinton scandals and the Politics of Image Restoration (Praeger, 2001, with W. L. Benoit) and Campaign '96: A Functional Analysis of Acclaiming, Attacking, and Defending (Praeger, 1998, with W. L. Benit and P. M. Pier).

P. M. PIER is a lecturer at Wartburg College In addition to Campaign '96: A Functional Analysis of Acclaiming, Attaching, and Defending, with William L. Benoit and Joseph R. Blaney (Praeger, 1998), she has published in various scholarly journals.

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