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Candidates in Conflict, Candidates in Conflict, 0817308687, 0-8173-0868-7, 978-0-8173-0868-1, 9780817308681, , Studies in Rhetoric and Communicatio

Candidates in Conflict
Persuasive Attack and Defense in the 1992 Presidential Debates

Quality Paper
1996. 272 pp.
Price:  $29.95 s

The first study to analyze the 1992 debates from the new perspective of attack and defense strategies
Candidates in Conflict provides a new perspective for understanding presidential debates by analyzing the three televised debates in 1992 among candidates Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Ross Perot. The debates, now an expected part of presidential campaigns, were literally viewed by millions and captured the attention of the nation.
Many scholars of communication view presidential debates as flawed (if not failed) academic debates. Benoit and Wells depart from this view by arguing that while presidential candidates may fall short on academic standards of evidence and reasoning, their debate style is nonetheless extremely calculated and effective in terms of attack and defense. By using persuasive attack and defense strategies, the authors maintain that candidates are able either to undermine (in the case of their opponents) or to preserve (for themselves) the vital issues of personal credibility and policy matters. In evaluating the success or failure of these strategies, the authors are careful to bear in mind important contextual variables for each debate. For example, how well were the candidates doing in public opinion polls? What did voters think about the need for change or the desirability for continuity in government? What were political commentators saying about the candidates before and after the debates?
This study is the first to analyze the 1992 debates from the new perspective of attack and defense strategies. In doing so, the authors provide invaluable tools for gaining insights into both the 1992 debates and the complexities of the debating process within the political arena more generally. The book also includes complete transcripts of the debates.
William L. Benoit is distinguished professor of communication studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is coauthor of Persuasive Attacks on Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Primary.
William T. Wells is Associate Professional Practice Professor at the University of Missouri.
“This book is clear and logical and provides good insights into the 1992 debates and into the principal strategies of attack and defense used in political debates.”
—Kathleen E. Kendall, State University of New York at Albany
“A contribution both in terms of the presidential debates and of the generic theory and criticism of persuasive attack and defense. . . . Should be of interest to all people interested in presidential debating, including the communication discipline, political science, and perhaps even political figures.”
—Wilmer A. Linkugel, University of Kansas
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