Politics Explained: Romney and Obama’s Convention Speeches Compared

The national party conventions are the most prime opportunity for a candidate to make his/her case for the presidency. The national news networks are finally all tuned in and giving their undivided attention. For the first time, they have a national audience, and they, the candidates, get to set the agenda. This moment was very important for both the President and Governor Romney but for different reasons.

Politics explained: Romney vs. Obama

Different Conventions, Different Speeches, Similar Goals

President Obama needed to stand up and convince America that he deserves four more years. He needed to explain why his leadership, that we’ve all seen, will be good for another term and then go on to explain what he’d do with it.

Governor Romney on the other hand had the task of explaining why he, the man without four years of presidential experience, would be that much better than the current option. He needed to lay out his plan for America’s future and show that America is not currently on the right course.

We’ll start with looking at Romney’s speech since he gave his first, and part of Obama’s speech was in response to Romney’s.

In the most basic terms, Romney’s speech was a success. Something that I’ve been noticing about Romney recently is that he is making his case for the presidency by acting presidential. After being introduced, Romney walked in from the back of the hall. To many observers, it was very akin to the way in which the president enters the House of Representatives, from the back, just before delivering the State of the Union address. There was a lot of hand shaking, hugs to friends, and one slightly awkward moment when Romney had to ask a lady not to touch his face because he was afraid of her ruining his stage make-up (before you laugh about him wearing make up, remember it was stage make up that helped JFK win in the presidential debates against Nixon. The debates were televised for the first time, and Nixon refused to put on make up…JFK looked better).

Politics Explained: Romney at Convention

Romney delivering speech to RNC

Then once behind the podium, he spoke to his purpose. Remember, that purpose was to make his case for the presidency. He started by first making the case that people should be considering a change in leadership. He asked the country to really ask themselves, “are you better than you were 4 years ago?” He supplied evidence to the fact that they weren’t. After getting people to consider new leadership, he explained what that meant. He laid out a five point plan to economic and job recovery which included energy independence by 2020 and stronger trade relations abroad. He ended by expressing his love for America, and all that politician fluff.

Exactly one week later, Obama spoke to his party. His entrance was a lot different, instead of coming from the back of a well lit room, he came from back stage of a dark room under a spotlight to the tune of a Coldplay song. The Obama people are really good at theatrical drama and evoking the most emotional response from their audience. This is no exception.

Politics Explained: Obama at convention applauding supporters

Obama applauds supporters

The speech itself, again, should have been aimed at laying out his plan for his next term as a way of convincing people that he deserves more time. He started with an acknowledgement of the historic nature of this election. He then went on to attack the speeches given by the republicans, throwing in the word God at every opportunity, just in case people still remembered how the DNC almost removed all instances of God from their party platform. He then laid out a long list of democratic party principles. He said that they could add thousands of jobs in multiple areas, and the only thing that he needs in order to do that is our help.

So what do we learn from this? Well, we just get confirmation of what we already know. This is a fundamental difference, in my opinion, between the Romney campaign and Obama campaign. Romney speaks to the country as a whole and offers a plan to help the whole; Obama seeks to divide and conquer.

Romney Speaks to the NAACP

Romney Speaks to the NAACP

Another great example of Romney doing well what he did at the convention was during his speech to the NAACP. There is an organization which is made up almost entirely of Obama supporters, but Romney went to them anyway. He realized that if he is going to be President of the United States then he will be president of all Americans, not just Republicans. He went into that meeting with the NAACP, and gave a very similar speech to those he gives all over the country. He was even booed at one point for saying some unpopular things. But the thing is, Romney will not pander. He will not change his message because of the color of people’s skin or their social standing. He is to be a president of all Americans.

Politics explained: Obama campaigns with strategy of divide and conquer

Obama seeks to divide and conquer

But Obama knows that in a system of winner take all, he doesn’t need all of America to agree with him, heck he doesn’t even need half of America to agree with him. He just needs more people to agree with him than with Romney. And so how does he do it?  Obama’s strategy has been to divide the people then gather up enough groups to secure his victory and save the needy and oppressed, as he feels that he is doing. This is seen in his divisive rhetoric against the business class of the country. He rallies the poor and middle class around the idea that the rich Americans don’t really care about the country or people who are under them. He attacks the successful for the purpose of gaining the support of those who want a share of their profits.

That’s what he did at the convention. If you listen, you’ll hear that he was speaking directly to his base. He was preaching to the choir to get them to sing louder. This wasn’t a speech for the undecided voter, like Romney’s was. If it was, he would have given more concrete ideas, and not abstract hopes and dreams for the future.

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6 thoughts on “Politics Explained: Romney and Obama’s Convention Speeches Compared

  1. Is your goal to truly compare the two without bias? Or is your goal to show that Romney is better and only speak to the negatives you find in Obama?

    • My of goal, of course, is to always be open minded in considering my opinions. As I watched President Obama’s speech, I truly tried to put myself in the place of an undecided voter and hear it as they would. I wasn’t perfect in this endeavor because I am of course not an undecided voter, but I truly did try and I think I was relatively successful. The thing is, this is all my opinion, this is what goes on in my mind. I do not pretend to be a source of news which is required to be without bias. I aim to be a source of political commentary and analysis. If at the end of my analysis I find there are more good things about one candidate as opposed to the other, I won’t be afraid to say it. And actually, there are other (much more respected) political commentators from both parties who are saying very similar things about both speeches. Democrats weren’t that excited about the President’s speech, and let’s be honest, it could have been the best speech since “I have a dream” and the republicans would have likely found nothing but fault.

      I appreciate your concern, I really do :). It helps me to make sure that I am doing my job fairly in adding my commentary to the political scene. I even went back and re-read what I wrote one more time just to make sure that I wasn’t too extreme or unfair in what I wrote. However, at the end of the day, I stand behind what is written.

  2. Good to know. I was under the impression that you were trying to be informative. (I am obviously behind in my reading.) Hopefully I can catch up and see what your thoughts are.

  3. Really because when I watched the two speeches I was of the opposite opinion. Romney’s speech was full of fluff “vote for me because I was born in the mid-west” things and “let’s go back to the old America” not saying how he planned to do that. Obama set goals and made promises in his speech. I’m currently taking a political class and my entire class believes Obama did a better job, so please just go post this on a pro-republican website and don’t try to say you aren’t biased. Oh and the entire 2nd half of your article has nothing to do with the speeches.

    • Chris, I appreciate your interest in my article and in taking part in the discussion. I would like to turn your attention to a couple of things. If you listen to the speeches again and really listen to what they have to say, you will find that my analysis isn’t as far off as you claim it is. I challenge you to go and find anything that resembles a concrete plan in Obama’s speech. Yes he has goals, but they were all arbitrary. “We’ll create half a million jobs” he said, “Hire a quarter million more teachers” he said. But did he once stop and say how? Not in any substantial way, no. All he said was that he needed our help. Basically, vote for me, and we’ll get it done, is all he said.

      Now to say that Romney did not present any sort of plan is simply not true. He laid out a five point plan in the heart of his speech, explaining how he was going to get America back to work again. That included energy independence by 2020 by using domestic oil while at the same time pursing alternative energy solutions. He talked about closing loopholes in the corporate tax code so that he can lower taxes on everyone. He laid out a plan. Sure he didn’t go into the tiniest of details in explaining each and every thing, but do you really expect him to do that? Obama sure didn’t. At least Romney presented a plan in his speech, which Obama did not.

      Now to deal with your other criticisms. For one, no one said that my articles are without bias. Yes, I try to be fair and open minded, but at the end of the day, these are my opinions and not news articles. If you want un-biased news articles, go to a news website. Even then, you are unlikely to find anyone who is unbiased. But this is a blog with political commentary, meaning, I present commentary on the news as I see it.

      And concerning the part not expressly about the speeches. This goes back to the part about how this is a blog of political commentary. It is my opinion that the things that have happened in the convention are very telling of things that are going around in the campaigns. As the author of this political commentary blog, it is my prerogative to make these kinds of connections in order to show the big picture.

      Because the thing is, Chris, I’m going to be completely honest with you. I think that Romney really is the best guy for the job. But don’t think this because my parents told me he’s good, or because we share a faith, or anything like that. I know he’s the best guy for the job because I’ve studied politics, I’ve seen the path that the country is going down. I mean look at states like Florida. The unemployment rate has been above 8.5% the entire time Obama has been in office. Sure you clan blame the first 6 months on Bush if you really want, but the fact that Florida’s unemployment is still higher than it has been in years can’t be all of Bush’s fault. The fact of the matter is, we can’t just be content with a “new normal” I don’t want a country where 8% unemployment is normal, because we know we are better than that. Obama has tried his hardest these last four years, but it simply hasn’t worked. Obama added more to the debt in three years in office that Bush added in two whole terms. If we continue this nasty habit of borrowing money and going further and further into debt, lenders will start worrying about whether or not we are actually ever going to pay them back. One globally recognized firm already lowered our credit rating (meaning they think it is less likely that we will pay people back) and a second is ready to do the exact same thing. If we don’t get this economy turned around, and get our government spending in check, we are going to be dealing with much bigger problems than we currently face. Like was mentioned earlier. Obama has offered no real change of course. To him, as he explains it, it’s going to just be business as usual, the “new normal.” That’s not good enough for America. We need someone who is going to take deficit reduction seriously. Romney as governor cut his state’s deficit by over two thirds. Obama promised to cut it in half saying that Bush was unpatriotic for adding so much to the deficit. Now it only climbs higher by the second.

      America needs help. It needs the hope and change that Obama promised four years ago but failed to deliver.

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