Who gave the best McCain endorsement speech?
December 9, 2008 6:15 AM   Subscribe

Who gave the most powerful, most persuasive, and most memorable endorsement of John McCain in this election?

I'm going to be giving a series of talks in the spring about political argument, and I'd like to organize one of the talks around political endorsements. I'd like to watch or read, with the audience, one endorsement for Barack Obama and another for John McCain, and explore what makes the endorsements powerful, persuasive, and memorable.

Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama is the obvious choice on that side. On the McCain side - what was the single most persuasive and interesting endorsement you read or heard? Who made the equivalent of the Powell endorsement for McCain? Bonus points for YouTube video!
posted by josh to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Well, the best "equivalent" or Powell's endorsement was probably Lieberman's, but I'm not sure about powerful or persuasive. (Then again, I'm an almost cliche-level demographically-correct Obama supporter, so I'm far from the right judge of these things.)
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:29 AM on December 9, 2008

For me, it was John McCain at the RNC. This sort of goes against CW, but it wasn't Sarah Palin who turned McCain's campaign around during the RNC, it was McCain himself. He stood up on stage and castigated his fellow Republicans for becoming fat, lazy, fools. He implored them to act with justice and wisdom. He spoke of the sacrifices he made in a prisoner of war camp, and spoke of his great love of his country. But most stirring of all was the complete rebuke of his own party, his takedown of the corrupting and mischievous elements that have polluted Washington. After that speech - a speech that was witnessed by more people than Obama's DNC speech - McCain went ahead in the polls for the first and only time. Everybody attributed it to Sarah Palin, and everybody was wrong. McCain was, for one night during the campaign (and one night after the campaign - his concession speech), the man America wanted him to be.

I'm going through the list of people in my head right now who endorsed McCain, trying to think of who did the best/most persuasive job, and I'm coming up short. Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild? Kidding! Honestly, nobody did a better job of pumping up the myth of McCain better than McCain. So, maybe Mark Salter? Would that count? Salter was the only person, in my opinion, who understood that the legend of McCain would sell, and he knew how to sell it. Everybody else was too busy trying to tear down Obama.
posted by billysumday at 6:37 AM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I liked David Frum's.
posted by mojohand at 6:46 AM on December 9, 2008

I think this is somewhat subjective -- I know some hard-core Republicans who really, really liked Sarah Palin's endorsement of John McCain at the RNC, but it didn't really do a thing for me.
posted by Comrade_robot at 6:52 AM on December 9, 2008

Endorsements are very rarely game changers. That was probably true in this election as well. The outcome would have been similar without any of the endorsements on either side.

That said, there were several stand-out moments created by Obama endorsements. Hillary and Bill Clinton's speeches at the DNC were very powerful, given their previous rivalry. The Colin Powell endorsement gave voice to moderate concerns about McCain's campaign and gave moderate Republican's cover to vote for Obama. Earlier, Bill Richardson's endorsement had an interesting narrative around it and helped generate significant positive coverage for Obama (and negative coverage of Hillary Clinton).

I don't think there was anything similar on the Republican side. The intention and hope was that the Lieberman endorsement would be the equivalent of what Powell eventually did for Obama. But it didn't happen. Lieberman's endorsement was not effective.

Palin certainly electrified the nation, but I'm not sure you can call that an endorsement, really. I think of an endorsement as being from someone you already know, about someone you know less. I guess you could say that Palin's cred with the fundamentalist community gave some weight to her endorsement of McCain. It was a cred transfer to that extent.

Clearly, though, McCain's endorsements were not that effective. He lost the election.
posted by alms at 6:59 AM on December 9, 2008

I agree with Billy about McCain at the convention. His acceptance speech, especially the "Fight with me!"crescendo, was fantastic and the high point of his campaign. Very inspiring. Palin, who is a fantastic public speaker, helped too though.

As far as endorsements from other people, Mitt Romney's concession to McCain was widely considered to be a class act and a huge help to McCain, even though he doesn't talk much about McCain in that speech.

My favorite endorsement speech is probably Fred Thompson's at the convention. Very funny, biting, and moving all at the same time, and the delivery was spot on. Video here.
posted by txvtchick at 7:00 AM on December 9, 2008

You're looking for Dear Mr. Obama.
posted by designbot at 7:29 AM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I found his concession speech the best endorsement for him. If he had said those things a few months earlier, in his own words like that, it might have changed the election.
posted by arnicae at 8:45 AM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

in his own words like that

Mark Salter is the wordsmith behind McCain's speeches.
posted by billysumday at 8:49 AM on December 9, 2008

I can't help with a powerful McCain endorsement - maybe Arnold's? or Rudy's? - but I urge you to reconsider on the Obama side: I thought the Kennedys passing the torch was epic.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:48 PM on December 9, 2008

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