For almost a year now, each of the presidential candidates has been giving a similar speech as they travel around the nation campaigning. While it gets revised as new issues arise and events occur, often this “stump speech” is a version of the speech that the candidate gave when they officially announced their campaign.
So those original announcements of their candidacy make for excellent evidence on which to evaluate them, whether it be on the level of fact-checking, rhetorical strategy, or general focus and philosophy.
Here are the original stump speeches from some of the presidential candidates (as of May 2, 2016), mostly taken from the UCSB American Presidency Project–a great resource for primary source documents related to the election:
- Hillary Clinton campaign “kickoff” (June 13, 2015)
- Ted Cruz announcing campaign (March 23, 2015)
- Bernie Sanders announcing campaign (May 26, 2015)
- Donald Trump announcing campaign (June 16, 2015)
- Jill Stein announcing “exploratory committee” for Green Party candidacy (February 6, 2015)
Read the speeches (aloud in class, if possible), then have students individually annotate the texts using hypothes.is (either in class or for homework). Direct students however you wish, but here’s a possible prompt: who are the candidates appealing to and how?
There will be a national annotatathon of the speeches the week of May 9th. However, you are welcome to annotate the speeches with your class before or after that date, whether publicly or in a private group.
(A possible extension of this activity is to find another campaign rally speech from the candidate at a different time during the campaign and noting what changes and what doesn’t in their approaches.)