What speechwriters yelled at the TV on Tuesday

Former political speechwriters share useful insights from victory and concession speeches delivered after the New Hampshire primary. Video

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:

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