Obama, Romney face a common oratory challenge: relatability

Their speechwriters and, of course, the speech givers themselves must address voters in a relatable, straightforward way if they want to succeed.

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Though Obama has a reputation for being a compelling orator and Romney has taken criticism for being robotic and out of touch, the candidates stand on fairly equal ground, speechwriters say. The two candidates face similar challenges, in that they both sometimes veer into a speaking style that many Americans just can’t relate to.

And though Obama may have the likeability edge, he’s also playing defense.

The academic and the businessman

“The more authentic a speaker is, the more you realize that what you see is what you get,” says executive speechwriter Ian Griffin.

Obama and Romney have a tendency to drift away from sounding like regular guys, something George W. Bush was adept at, he says. Obama can often come off as too intellectual or academic; after all, he was a law professor. And Romney, with his talk of multiple Cadillacs and knowing NASCAR team owners, has been chastised for being the mouthpiece of the richest of the rich.

“Hardly anybody understands what a hedge fund is or private equity,” Griffin says of Romney’s background. “It’s hard for people to relate to high finance.”

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