After election, candidates need a different tone

Both the winner and loser of the presidential election should ratchet back the negative rhetoric once the polls have closed to bring a little peace to a deeply divided electorate, speechwriters say.

After months and months of constant campaigning, the polls will close Tuesday night. Someone will give a victory speech, and someone will give a concession speech. Though those speeches often fit rather rigid templates, President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney may have a little extra responsibility in terms of their content and tone this time around.

“Whichever candidate wins tomorrow will be elected after one of the most bitterly fought and closely divided campaigns in American history,” says Hal Gordon, a former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan.

The numbers tell the tale: The candidates set a record this year for the most negative campaign ads in a presidential race, according to a study from the Wesleyan Media Project.

In their speeches, the candidates will have to stop throwing punches and set a more conciliatory tone, Gordon and other speechwriters say.

The winner

Gordon says either candidate probably would give the same victory speech.

“Be gracious to the loser, be appreciative of his supporters, be hopeful about the future, and appeal to all Americans for their support,” he says. “Writing the victory speech will be easy.”

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