A Rhetorical Analysis of the 2012 Presidential Debate

Topics: Rhetoric, Harvard Law School, John McCain Pages: 3 (781 words) Published: November 5, 2012
Joanna Newman

A Rhetorical Analysis of the Second Presidential Debate of 2012

On October 16, 2012, President Barack Obama and former governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts met at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York for their second presidential debate. The debate, moderated by Candy Crowell of CNN, was much more relaxed than the first debate taking on a “town hall” format in which voters in the audience posed questions to the two presidential candidates. This analysis will focus on two of the questions asked during this debate that centered on each candidate’s plans for providing American citizens with jobs. The candidates responded to these questions using many rhetorical strategies - traditional forms of composition in speech and writing: exposition, narration, persuasion, and description - to enhance their arguments.

The first question posed to the candidates asked about their plans for creating jobs for students after they graduate from college. In his response to this question, former Governor Mitt Romney opened the debate by using the rhetorical device, pathos, to strengthen his argument. Pathos is a rhetorical strategy in which one makes an appeal to the beliefs and emotions of the intended audience. In order to do this, he explains that other students feel the same way, thus creating a sense of empathy for college students that worry about their futures after graduation. Romney also details his own personal interaction with a recent graduate who was struggling to find work. Romney’s use of this story makes the audience feel an emotional connection to the argument he is making this, in turn, strengthens their belief that he understands how to manage the unemployment problem if he is elected as president.

In answering this same question, however, President Obama takes a different rhetorical approach and employs the use of both ethos and logos in his argument. Logos is a rhetorical strategy that creates a...
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