On September 15, Hillary Clinton gave a speech in Greensboro, North Carolina. Considering that Clinton was speaking at UNC, her message was most likely tailored to college students and other millennial voters. She often brought up issues that college students would care about, such as lowering debt. Since college students also tend to lean liberal, she spoke about her fight for LGBT equality without feeling the need to defend it, as this is an issue many college students care about. It’s clear that she kept her audience in mind while creating this speech.
Clinton was wearing a modest yet, in my opinion, fashionable outfit. Although it sounds like she was raising her voice at times, I think it was just to compensate for her weak voice due to illness. Even when talking about her opponent, Donald Trump, she didn’t address him by name or make any personal attacks. She remained poised and professional, which shows that she will not stoop to his level of anger and aggression.
Throughout the speech, she kept coming back to the concept behind her slogan: that Americans are better when we work together. She said she wants to fight for everyone’s interest, not just people of certain races or religions. She also says that she cares about the details behind every policy she wants to put in place, because this is what will matter to the individuals that it affects. Overall, her message is that everyone should have the chance to live up to their potential because this will create the most change.
In regards to the strategies Clinton employed in her speech, she is in a unique position because she is neither a challenger nor an incumbent. She is clearly not an incumbent because she was not previously president. However, she is not challenging Obama’s presidency either because she is in the same party as him and works closely with him. Instead, Clinton tends to focus on challenging her opponent. She does this by delegating personal or harsh attacks to others. While her attack ads on Trump can be harsh, she is reluctant to make personal attacks on him. In fact, she recently came under fire for calling half of his supporters “deplorables.” Letting her campaign and surrogates attack him on her behalf is a challenger strategy.
Another challenger strategy Clinton employs is emphasizing optimism for the future. She often uses a rhetoric of optimism to say that the future can be better if we work together to make it that way. Her slogan, “Stronger together” also emphasizes this. She does not directly attack any of Obama’s decisions, especially since he has endorsed her and acts as a surrogate, but she does say that she wants to build upon and improve what he has done. So instead of challenging the status quo, she focuses on challenging the rhetoric of despair that Trump employs.
Clinton mentioned the break she had due to her pneumonia as a way to further develop her image. Coming back on to the campaign trail ready to get to work shows that she is resilient. Yet, she also conveyed that her decision to take a few days off was difficult yet responsible. She said the few days off allowed her to reflect on all the Americans who can’t take days off when they get sick. This shows that she is always thinking about the American people, even when she is not at her best. I think this further develops her image as a candidate who is fighting for and truly cares about the American people.