Former political speechwriters share useful insights from victory and concession speeches delivered after the New Hampshire primary
Tuesday night you’d have thought there was a football game on the TV at Michele Nix’s house.
“Look up. Look up!” she yelled. “Yes we can!” … “Your delivery is good but you ring hollow.” … “Yes! Passion, go with it. You lost, but you’re connecting.” … “Noooo! Not a script! This is your moment! Why are you reading?” … “Connect, connect, connect!”
The game the former George H.W. Bush speechwriter was watching, of course, was not a game at all (at least according to Sen. Hillary Clinton), but the series of high-stakes speeches delivered after Clinton and Sen. John McCain won—and other still-viable candidates lost—the New Hampshire primary.
Nix wasn’t the only Tuesday evening quarterback. Everyone who has ever written for a big-time politician was watching these speeches with some combination of nostalgia pangs, gratitude for being on their couch instead.
Their shouts at the TV, some of which I solicited on Wednesday morning, also contained some good advice for the candidates’ speechwriters—indeed, all speechwriters: