Discourse & Society
This article is a dual-case analysis of presidential campaign interviews conducted with former President George HW Bush when he was campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980, and former President William J. Clinton when he was campaigning for the presidency in 1991. Both interviews were conducted at high schools in New Hampshire and are publicly available on the C-SPAN website. The purpose of this analysis is to investigate how the success or failure of political campaigns may be tied to candidates’ interactional competence and pragmatic skills. This will be done through an examination of the strengths and weaknesses of the answers each candidate produced in the context of these nonadversarial interviews. This conversation analytic investigation reveals key differences between the two candidates in the successful display of various types of knowledge, interactional competency, sensitivity to audience design, fluency of speech and organization of their responses. The results are discussed in terms of the importance of interactional skills for the success of political campaigns and the effectiveness of ‘Neutral Informational Interviews’ for educating the audience.
Garcia, Angela Cora, 2018. Presidential campaign talk: Question-answering in ‘Neutral Informational Interviews’, Discourse & Society.