"Checkers," The American Dog in Disguise: A Rhetorical Analysis of Nixon's Address
In "The Checkers Speech," Richard Nixon responds to criticism regarding an alleged "secret fund." At this time, 1952, Nixon was running for vice president with presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower was enjoying enormous popularity when the rumor surfaced one month before the election. Nixon was accused of accepting a supplemental salary of $18,000 dollars, contributed by a group of supporters back in his home state of California. There were also rumors that Eisenhower would drop Nixon from the ticket. So Nixon was forced to come up with a remedy for the untimely situation. Not only did he have to convince the American people he was an honest politician, he also had to show Ike that he should remain on the ticket. He prepared a speech himself and arranged to go on a nationwide television program and "tell the truth." The Republican National Committee purchased a half-hour of prime time on the NBC and CBS television networks and the Mutual radio networks. Nixon was on air, and did just what he planned to do; speak in his defense by allegedly telling the truth. He also used the media opportunity to achieve other goals. After arguing for his innocence, Nixon attacked his opponents and supported Eisenhower, in tern supporting himself by association. Nixon targeted "the people" as his largest audience. He strove to appeal to the common, hardworking, honest men, women, and families of America. He was careful to identify himself with this audience all through out the speech. Nixon frequently displayed his strong family beliefs and their importance to him. For example, when he explained the wages of a Senator, he stated, "He gets enough money to pay for one trip a year, a round trip that is, for himself and his family between his home and Washington, D.C." Another example of his family man image was displayed in his summary of his living situation. He...
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