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Hamilton College Faculty Comment on Political Conventions

Rhetorical Images, Bounce in Polls, European Foreign Policy

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"Political Conventions: Rhetorical Images and What Really Matters in Eloquent Speech"

Speakers at the upcoming political conventions will employ rhetorical images to achieve audience identification with candidates, predicts John Adams, professor of rhetoric and communication at Hamilton College. "It will be interesting to see how the images project the speaker's sense of her or his audience's character. What really matters in public speech often gets played out in terms of substance vs. style," says Adams. "The convention speeches will probably focus at some point on differences between candidates so that it appears that there is something more compelling than the toss of a coin to decide who to vote for," says Adams. "It is Nader's hope that voters will come to the conclusion that he's the best choice: heads or tails, or Nader. You call it!"

John Adams has a Ph.D. in speech communication from the University of Washington with a specialization in the history and philosophy of rhetoric. Adams has written extensively on the intersection of rhetoric, religion, and education.  His book, Delightful Conviction: Jonathan Edwards and the Rhetoric of Conversion, co-authored with Stephen Yarbrough, received the Eastern Communication Association's Everett Lee Hunt Award. Adams has taught courses in speechwriting, rhetorical criticism, history of rhetoric, advanced public speaking, history of American public address, and rhetoric and philosophy.

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'Bounce' in Polls Expected to be Insignificant Following Conventions

"Speculation is rampant over what kind of 'bounce' in the polls John Kerry and George W. Bush will get from their upcoming conventions. But, a look at the numbers suggests that historically most bounces are insignificant in size and effect," said Hamilton College Government Professor Phil Klinkner.  "According to data from the Gallup poll, the average convention bounce is a mere six points--an amount not much more than the margin of error of most polls. "

"Furthermore, convention bounces have little impact on the dynamics of the campaign. Since both candidates usually get a bounce, they tend to cancel each other out. From 1964 to 2000, the usual difference between bounces has been less than 3 points--barely a blip in the polls," Klinkner said.

Phil Klinkner, The James S. Sherman Associate Professor of Government at Hamilton College, is the author of numerous books and articles on American politics, including The Losing Parties: Out-Party National Committees, 1956-1993 (Yale University Press, 1994) and Midterm: The 1994 Elections in Perspective (Westview Press, 1996). Most recently, he co-authored The Unsteady March: The Rise and Decline of America's Commitment to Racial Equality (University of Chicago Press, 1999), which received the 2000 Horace Mann Bond Book Award from Harvard University's Afro-American Studies Department and W.E.B. DuBois Institute. Klinkner's study, "Red and Blue Scare: The Continuing Diversity of the American Electoral Landscape" was published in the current issue of The Forum: Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics. Klinkner regularly updates his blog http://polysigh.blogspot.com/ to provide commentary on current topics.

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The Bush Administration has Alienated Most of Europe's Leaders, Triggering Considerable Support for Kerry

"Europeans will be watching the presidential elections closely," says Hamilton College government professor and co-author of The Political Economy of European Foreign Policy Alan Cafruny. "The Bush administration has alienated most of Europe's leaders triggering considerable support for Kerry.  Kerry's plan to halve the deficit also has considerable appeal reflecting Europe's concern about the U.S. budget deficit," Cafruny said.

"The presidential candidates differ little regarding their plans for Iraq. Kerry proposes sending more troops and soliciting support from Europe and NATO. Whether he could make good on this is questionable but Europe's leaders would likely be more responsive to a Kerry appeal.

"Kerry, of course, has close French relatives, went to school in Switzerland, and speaks French fluently, factors that enhance his position from a European perspective," Cafruny noted.

A widely regarded expert on the European Union, Alan Cafruny recently released a book, A Ruined Fortress: Neoiberal Hegemony and Transformation in Europe, co-edited with Magnus Ryner, July, 2003.   Cafruny published The Union and the World: The Political Economy of a Common European Foreign Policy, which comprehensively covers the broad range of Union policies in both economic and political spheres. Cafruny wrote two chapters for the book, The Geopolitics of U.S. Hegemony in Europe: From the Break-up of Yugoslavia to the War in Iraq, and Europe, the United States, and Neoliberal (Dis)Order: Is There a Coming Crisis of the Euro? He is knowledgeable about all aspects of political, economic, security and foreign policy issues of the EU.

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