Rhetorical Concepts

Rhetorical Concepts


Sincethe first presidential debate in September 1960 between Richard Nixonand John F. Kennedy, public debates have become familiar in Americanpolitics. During the 20thcentury, the presidential candidates could refuse to attend apolitical discussion. Nonetheless, with time, the public startedaccepting the concept of public debates. Consequently, the people didnot take well to those candidates who turned down the debate. Hence,turning down the debates attracted bad press, which was not good forthe candidates. Later the situation changed, and the presidentialdebates have attained great significance in American politics. Mostof the voters rely on these debates to determine the best candidatewho advocates the best policies and has the capabilities of effectingchange to improve the country. Recently, the September 2015presidential debate on CNN featured several fifteen Republicancandidates (Diamond). The debate had two rounds of questioning, whichrequired the candidates to demonstrate that they have what it takesto be a Republican Presidential Nominee. During the debate, DonaldTrump was one of the candidates who stood out from the group due tohis convincing tactics using rhetoric strategies such as logos,hyperbole, ethos, pathos, and imagery.

First,he used pathos to appeal to the audience’s emotions. One of thequestions posed during the debate required the candidates to explainhow they would change the country according to the tradition of Regan(Diamond). Trump gave a very appealing emotional response where hevowed to make the United States greater than ever before. He alsosaid, “other nations will respect us like never before”(Diamond). His statement appeals to the audience’s desire forgreatness, which he promises to fulfill. Besides, the fact he makesan assertive vow also shows the audience that he is dependable, whichalso assures the audience that he can deliver his promise.Furthermore, indicating that he will help the country attain morerespect than ever before shows the audience that his administrationhas better strategies, which previous and current administrationshave not been using. American people hold the institution of familyin very high regard. It is viewed as the core of the society thatgives people the reason to work and have the desire to build a betternation. Accordingly, Trump uses the idea of family to appeal to theaudience’s emotions. For example, when the candidates are askedwhich woman they would like to see on the $10 bill, Trump firstresponse is his daughter (Diamond). He shows that he treasures hisfamily, which aligns with audience’s view of family. He also givesan option of Rosa Parks, an African-American civil rights activist.Both responses appeal to the audience’s emotions especially thewomen as he affirms their importance in the society.

Additionally,he applies logos rhetorical tactics to provoke the audience to viewthe political and economic situation in the country from a logicalperspective. Trump articulates his idea to build a wall along theSouthern border to solve the issue to illegal immigrants (Haddon).Illegal immigration into the United States has been an alarmingproblem, particularly over the past decade. The problem is especiallypersistent at the Mexico-United States border where a large number ofillegal immigrants enter the country, which violates the nationalityand immigration laws. Typical illegal immigrants move to America insearch of better jobs. Nevertheless, they weaken the legal andnational security environment considerably because it creates a coverfor criminals and terrorists. Hence, the Americans are eager to havethe government solve these issues. Accordingly, Trump uses logic toexpress his plan to address the issues of immigration, which willhelp the audience solve one of the major problems the country isfacing (Haddon). However, this strategy appears as though it uses therhetoric of divisiveness and hatred. Trump indicates that his planwill deport eleven million illegal immigrants. Although his remarkswere truthful and persuasive, it appears to encourage hatred againstthe immigrant, especially the Hispanic community (Haddon).

Trump’suse of hyperbole during the presidential debate made his argumentseven more convincing. He explains that he would deal with the problemof immigration by building a wall that will work to stop illegalimmigrants from entering the country (Haddon). However, theMexico-United States border already has a fence coveringapproximately 700 miles, but still it has not stopped illegalimmigrants from entering the country, as Trump would have the viewerbelieve. On the same topic, Trump indicates that the Mexicangovernment is much smarter and cunning. Hence, they send the badcitizens over to the United States because they would rather not dealwith them (Haddon). Nonetheless, the facts state otherwise sinceillegal immigrants from Mexico have steadily decreased since 2000.Moreover, the border patrol agents have arrested approximately 1.6million immigrants, which have also helped significantly. Lastly,Trump says that the debate would not be discussing illegalimmigration if it were up to him (Haddon). On the contrary, theproblem has been a topic of discussion among the Republicans for thepast three decades. Thus, Trump’s tactics revolve around falseinformation, but they aim to persuade the audience to agree with him.

Finally,Trump uses ethos to persuade the viewers the benefits of hisstrategies. Trump uses his experiences to assure the audience of hiscredibility, win their trust, and support his argument. He uses thisto build his credibility with the viewers. Trump has an excellentrecord of accomplishment in the business sector where he has built agreat company and created tremendous job opportunities through it(Jackson). As such, the Americans view him as a successfulbusinessperson who has managed to build a reputable company, and ifhe uses the same strategies, then he could probably develop thecountry as he promises. Therefore, when he vows to use thebest-skilled professionals to make America a better place, hisstatement provokes the audience to link this to his track record,which is impressive. Another issue discussed during the debate was ofclimate change. Trump responds that will defend national security byhiring the finest people (Jackson). Normally, people now that thebest way to achieve excellent result in any field is by employingskilled professionals. Hence, Trump uses ethos to appeal to theviewers’ logic by linking his perceived level success to greatdecision-making, which he plans to use when managing the county. Healso uses imagery to evoke the viewer’s visual image. Trump states,“the world is a mess.” His choice of words is interesting. Itevokes the viewer to imagine the current state of the country andcompares if it corresponds to Trump’s description.

Trumprhetoric strategies seem to have worked to his favor. According topolls, his numbers have improved greatly as he has tapped into thegrowing voter frustration and anger with the political establishment(Jackson). Besides, his strategies seem to accomplish an apparentdesire for more straight-talk and easy solutions to the intrinsicallycomplicated issues such as immigration. Consequently, his ratings arestill increasing with a current 19 percent of the Republican Partyprimary voters supporting him as their first option (Jackson).

Inconclusion, politics takes up a significant part of the Americansociety since it influences the choice of leaders. However, thepeople need to learn more about a candidate and their leadershipplans, which has brought about the need for public debates. Thedebates are important because they give a candidate the chance topersuade the voters and his party that he worthy of the presidentialnominee. It helps the citizens to vote for the most capable leaderswho they believe will bring most change in the county. Although themedia often look for the winners and losers of the debate, theviewers are usually more interested in determining who is a betterchoice and if they have what it takes to be president. Hence,presidential candidates attend public debates to convince the viewersthat they are worthy to be presidents. One of the latest presidentialdebates features fifteen Republican candidates all of whom tried toconvince the Americans that they were the best for the job. In thatdebate, Donald Trump used several rhetorical strategies to articulatehis views and attract the viewer’s support. He utilizes pathos topersuade the audience by appealing to their emotions. Trump also useslogos to provoke the viewer to evaluate his policies from a logicalperspective. He also utilizes ethos to assure the audience that hecredible. Lastly, he uses hyperbole where most of the statements hemakes regarding public policies and security measures are exaggeratedto suit his purpose. Besides, some of the answers he offers duringthe discussion stir the audience’s imagination to visualize acountry with Trump administration. However, Trump overused hisrhetoric strategies to an extent that he appeared as though he wasinfluencing hatred against the immigrants. Nonetheless, he stillmanaged to persuade some audience that he is the right man for thejob.


Diamond,Jeremy. CNN’s Republican Debate: Winners and Loser. CNNPolitics,17 Sept. 2015. Web. 20 Sept. 2015.

Haddon,Heather. Donald Trump Says Immigrant Deportation Done In Two Years.TheWall Street Journal,11 Sept. 2015. Web. 20 Sept. 2015.

Jackson,David. Live: Donald Trump, Rest Of Republican Field Spar In ReaganLibrary Debate. USAToday,17 Sept. 2015. Web. 20 Sept. 2015.