The post GOP Debate is somewhat better than the debate itself. As I’ve monitored the Twitter feed for selected candidates–I have found that most candidates are on point with sending clear and consistent messages through Twitter–except for one candidate and that is Donald Trump. He is consistently not telling me about his campaign. I just see hyperboles and anger.

Even in Ancient Greece, Sophists believed language was powerful. George Lakoff explains in his book, The Political Mind,

Language can be used to change minds, which means it can change brains–permanently, for good or ill. It does not merely express emotions, it can change them; not merely arouse or quell them, but change the role of emotion in one’s life and the life of a nation. (p. 231)

The political power of words lies not primarily in their form–that is, in speech–or even in the meanings they are directly linked to, but in the totality of brain circuitry that activation can spread to: the frames, metaphors, prototypes, metonymies, and the entire systems of concepts. Words matter. They shape our politics–and our lives. (p. 241)

An American citizen checking a candidate’s Twitter feed should be able to see information about their campaign and their stance on the important campaign issues. A candidate’s Twitter feed is a quick glance at a candidate’s campaign. Twitter and even Facebook are easily accessible without a laptop or desktop computer. If a candidate is mentioned and a smart phone is nearby, a social media feed may be the candidate’s first impression to the potential supporter.

Aristotle

First, lets address what Aristotle said in his work Politics:

Now, that man is more of a political animal than bees or any other gregarious animals is evident. Nature, as we often say, makes nothing in vain, and man is the only animal whom she has endowed with the gift of speech. And whereas mere voice is but an indication of pleasure or pain, and therefore found in other animals (for their nature attains to the perception of pleasure and pain and the intimation of them to one another, and no further), the power of speech is intended to set forth the expedient and the inexpeident, and therefore likewise the just and the unjust. And it is a characteristic of man that he alone has any sense of good and evil, of just and unjust, and the like, and the association of living beings who have this sense makes a family and a state. (1253.a.1)

Yes, we are political animals and we have been given the gift of speech. As Americans, our voices are louder than ever before thanks to social media. When choosing leaders, speech is important. Language is powerful. How we use language online and offline can show the true character of a person.

Aristotle, in his work, Rhetoric, says there are three modes to persuasion:

The first kind depends on the personal character of the speaker; the second on putting the audience into a certain frame of mind; the third on the proof, or apparent proof, provided by the words of the speech itself…. The man who is to be in command of them must, it is clear, be able to (1) to reason logically, (2) to understand human character and goodness in their various forms, and (3) to understand the emotions– that is, to name them and describe them, to know their causes and the way in which they are excited. (1356.a.1)

You will find ethos, pathos, and logos in all of the candidate’s Tweets below. Some you’ll find one more than another.  Either way, when assessing candidates you may want to evaluate by looking at how their campaign is framing each candidate. Twitter is a very good example because it’s text driven by the campaign with no media middleman.

The Tweets

I chose campaign tweets from Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiornia, and Donald Trump. Clinton, Bush and Trump have the highest poll numbers and Carly Fiornia won the Happy Hour debate. Carly also has been one of the most talked about candidates in the news. I wanted to see their tweets after a debate. Did they push harder for Americans to get to know them? Twitter could be a potential supporter’s first impression of a candidate post debate.

Below is the number of tweets since the debate on August 6.   I collected these tweets on August 8 at 2:50 pm.

  • Jeb Bush: 14 Tweets
  • Hillary Clinton: 12 Tweets
  • Carly Fiornia: 19 Tweets
  • Donald Trump: 71 Tweets

Jeb Bush (Career politician, family name produced 2 presidents)

Jeb’s first tweet after the debate is to quote a follower who says she’s voting for Jeb.

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 4.05.39 PM

 

Jeb is shown campaigning in New Hampshire.

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 4.17.12 PM

Responds to an immigration issue.

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 4.18.54 PM

 

And, Jeb called out Donald Trump tapping into the emotions of people who are angry at Trump.


Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 4.23.08 PM

 

The tweet about dealing with Putin reminds me of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign commercial asking who would you want to answer the red phone? Jeb Bush is asking, who do you want dealing with Putin?

<you may have to refresh your browser to see the video below>

 

 

Hillary Clinton (former First Lady, senator and Secretary of State)

Marco Rubio pointed out during the debate that if you looked at the resumes of the candidates, Hillary Clinton would be the most qualified. But, that doesn’t mean a thing in Presidential campaigns. Choosing the best candidate depends on who people have the most confidence in. We all know people can look good on paper. They may even look good on Twitter.

Hillary’s campaign team tweeted during the debate. Even Hillary added a touch of humor to the night:

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 4.35.59 PM

Hillary’s campaign tweeted about immigration:

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 4.44.35 PMThe tweet directs you to Hillary’s Facebook page. 

Then, Hillary’s campaign tweets about American’s first voting experience with a nifty graphic with the hashtag for others to join in on their Tumblr page.

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 4.51.48 PM

 

Go Hillary goes International:

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 4.51.33 PM

 

Hillary’s feed is very citizen focused. She focuses on her supporters and their contribution, whether it’s sharing their story or creating opportunities for Question and Answer sessions. Her campaign also retweets:

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 4.52.00 PM

Her Twitter feed guides you to more information as well as creating quick bites of information in well designed graphics.

Carly Fiorina (Businesswoman turned politician)

Carly is definitely seizing this moment to make a name for herself in this campaign. With a clear win during the Happy Hour debate on August 6, she tweeted her media opportunities for supporters to watch:

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 5.21.38 PM

 

I also worry when candidates use the word momentum. I’m not a fan of reminding people you’re behind. I would rephrase this tweet to say: “Chip in $3 to support #Carly2016.” Don’t make it a question… make the tweet more motivating without using the words “Can you” chip in $3. I would actually have made it a $1.

Then she adds video clips:

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 5.29.21 PM

 

In both videos she discusses why she is running and her plans.

Carly talks about reestablishing leadership. Here she is establishing her ethos with people unfamiliar with her:

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 5.32.27 PM

The links in the tweets leads to a detalied statement on how she plans to reestablish the leadership in America.

Then, Carly tweets about Donald Trump with these two tweets. She tapping into the anger of the crowd who despises Trump’s tweets about Megyn Kelly.

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 5.32.42 PM

 

Donald Trump (Businessman and celebrity)

Donald had 71 tweets and many of those were retweets.

While the above candidates were moving forward from the debate–Donald Trump kept rehashing and bashing.

As I went through his post debate tweets, all I found were retweets praising him and/or helping him bash FOX News. I will say, I did not learn much about the plan he has for America. I know many Americans find his harsh rhetoric refreshing. I am all for not always being politically correct, but his tweets didn’t lead me to find out much about him, the politician. As I read his tweets I saw a desperate attempt to show the reader he’s popular in the polls, but those were limited. He then bashed people who didn’t agree he won the debate. If people disagreed with him he uses such words as clowns, fools, etc to lash out at critics. Trump is shaking up the GOP party and the overall election with bombastic language. During the debate he was the clear winner because he was able to gain more air time than any other candidate. But, as a rhetorician, I wonder if he can keep his momentum with such language and lack of logos in his arguments.

His first two tweets after the debate shared a quick poll by The Drudge Report and then a picture with his family. 


Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 5.44.11 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-08 at 5.44.22 PM

 

Then a lot of retweets praising Donald Trump.

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 5.45.11 PM

Trump won’t move forward from the debate, but instead decides to attack Megyn Kelly and Frank Luntz. Yes, he may have been targeted by Fox News, but he also could choose how to react to the situation. He chose to name call and decided to call the focus group a dumb panel. If he listened to the focus group–the focus group said they walked in supporting him, but changed their mind due to his rhetorical choices during the debate. I’ve heard many people voice the same concerns–and they are not a part of focus groups or related to the media.

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 5.45.50 PM

 

And, when the focus group criticized Donald Trump he decided it was all a lie. Within the tweets below Trump says nothing about his plan for America or talks about campaigning. He does retweet and focuses on ratings and calling people names such as clown and dopey. These are great tweets to gain attention and to spur emotion within Trump’s supporters.

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 5.47.31 PM

 

Then he decides to discuss how many people believe he won the debate. He also calls people who criticize his name calling as “politically correct” fools, which could alienate some voters if he is serious about campaigning.

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 5.47.56 PM

 

Trump taps into the anger of Americans through his post debate tweets to provoke emotional responses from his supporters. Trump understands his audience who seems to be responding to these outbursts. But, can his lack of ethos and lack of logos win Trump the election? Trump earned credibility as a businessman, but he still needs to earn credibility within politics.  I doubt Putin or any other controversial leader will allow anyone to call them dopey, fool or clown.

The other three candidates have chosen to concentrate on the issues. When you visit Jeb’s, Hillary’s, and Carly’s Twitter page you understand their stance on the issues. You also see how they focus on their supporters. Their emotional appeals are not about attacking groups of people, but helping voters understand their stance on the issues. Two of the candidates addressed Trump’s comments on their Twitter feed. I’m not opposed to a strong in your face type of candidate to get things done, but Donald’s rhetorical choices are filled with too strong of pathos.

Aristotle found pathos useful. And as Jay Heinrichs says, ” You can persuade someone logically, but… getting him out of his chair to act on it takes something more combustible.” (Thank you for Arguing, p. 40).

When a citizen examines a candidate’s website, speech, Twitter feed, Facebook feed, etc– citizens should evaluate a candidate using Aristotle’s three qualities of persuasive ethos:

Jay Heinrich’s explains simply that those are:

Virtue–the audience believes you share their values

Practical Wisdom–or street smarts–you appear to know the right thing to do on every occasion.

Selflessness, or disinterest— the audience’s interest seems to be your sole concern.

(Thank you for Arguing, p. 56).

When you evaluate each candidate, you may ask yourself if you see these three qualities in the candidates’s language.

And, as Trump keeps tapping into the anger in America–he’s really tapping into the audience’s–

experience and expectation–what your audience believes has happened, or will take place in the future. The more vividly you give the audience the sensations of an experience, the greater the emotion can arouse…. When you argue emotionally, speak simply. ( Jay Heinrichs, Thank you for Arguing, p. 80 & 82)

Trump does speak simply. He uses the words such as stupid, fool, and clown to describe issues and people. Trump is said to be “stirring the pot” and I believe that is true. He is motivating an audience to act whether it is to tweet support, to spar with him, or to even ban him from events. He is creating a stir. Trump is credited for bringing in 24 million viewers to the first GOP debate, which made it the most watched cable news program ever. Yes, Trump is motivating a crowd. But, how long will it last with no substantive information? How long will his momentum last? How long will citizens support bombastic hyperboles and unapologetic attitude?

The rhetorical choices a candidate makes now can make or break their campaign. I’m not sure the controversy surrounding Trump’s campaign can survive much longer, especially while verbally attacking a woman. Unfortunately, if an audience can stick by a show called Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and make a successful franchise out of Real Housewives then I believe anything is possible for Donald Trump. The in your face, attack and react world is here. The race for the Presidency has changed drastically. People are confusing politics with entertainment. The criteria for choosing a president is not the same as it was 20 years ago. I saw a tweet in passing that said they wished Americans could vote one candidate off the debate stage–such as they do on American Idol or Survivor. One day… one day…

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GOPWordcloud

A word cloud from the most frequently used words in the #GOPDebate feed. I collected 90,000 tweets.


The #GOPDebate had two debates. The “Happy Hour” debate, which consisted of seven candidates with the lowest poll numbers and then the prime-time debate, which consisted of the ten candidates with the highest poll numbers.

I missed the first debate, but watching the clips it looks like an interesting twist of events with Carly Fiorina making a name for herself. I will say, I know little about Carly Fiorina, but found myself researching her background.

As for the second debate with the top ten candidates in the polls–it was far from a boring debate. Donald Trump, a businessman as well as celebrity, believes he won the debate. No one can ever say Trump lacks self-confidence. And that’s why he won the debate. The focus was on Trump. Trump made himself the focus. And his unapologetic ways sparked fury in the other candidates and moderators. Trump did not disappoint viewers, which made for great television. But, with that said, he still needs polish and to work on clarifying what his plan for America would be how will he make America great?

The night played into what we might see on the best episode of a Real Housewives of Whatever City. Watching throughout the night there were some who lacked the dynamics of Trump and those that showed Trump as only a celebrity who lacks the knowledge base of the other candidates.

The most eloquent speakers of the night were Senator Marco Rubio and former Governor Jeb Bush. They answered each question respectfully. Donald Trump was always on the defense. He used words as “Stupid” to explain what he saw at the border:

WALLACE: Mr. Trump, I’ll give you 30 seconds — I’ll give you 30 seconds to answer my question, which was, what evidence do you have, specific evidence that the Mexican government is sending criminals across the border? Thirty seconds.

TRUMP: Border Patrol, I was at the border last week. Border Patrol, people that I deal with, that I talk to, they say this is what’s happening. Because our leaders are stupid. Our politicians are stupid.

And the Mexican government is much smarter, much sharper, much more cunning. And they send the bad ones over because they don’t want to pay for them. They don’t want to take care of them.

Why should they when the stupid leaders of the United States will do it for them? And that’s what is happening whether you like it or not.

Trump needs polish. He may have the gusto and speaks without filters (and unapologetic for doing so), but when you’re in a room and you’re the ONLY one doing that–it looks unprofessional and un-presidential. Perception is everything in a debate. You need to show how you can handle stress and criticism. Most importantly, can a presidential candidate convey a clear and eloquent message that viewers can respond to and understand. As a viewer, and with a little knowledge of Rhetoric, I get it Trump, you’re mad about the direction America is headed–but don’t try to bully your way into the presidency. We want a president who can keep calm and not be on the defense every time they are criticized. My point is to get a REALLY good debate coach to help smooth out your answers. As I once read, do not ever claim to be the smartest person in the room–if you think you are–you’re in the wrong room.

Some of the best lines of the night came from unexpected candidates:

RUBIO: Well, first, let me say I think God has blessed us. He has blessed the Republican Party with some very good candidates. The Democrats can’t even find one.


 

WALLACE: Dr. Carson, closing statement.

CARSON: Well, I haven’t said anything about me being the only one to do anything, so let me try that.

I’m the only one to separate siamese twins…

(LAUGHTER)

The — the only one to operate on babies while they were still in mother’s womb, the only one to take out half of a brain, although you would think, if you go to Washington, that someone had beat me to it.

 

Social Media 

What lacked for many presidential candidates, especially the candidates who people took notice to last night– a silent Twitter feed.

Both Marco Rubio’s Twitter feed and Happy Hour debate winner Carly Fiorina’s Twitter feed was silent. So was Donald Trump’s Twitter feed. Their Twitter feed should be active with links to more information. Use the platform to help clarify statements and to share your plan.

Jeb Bush’s social media team was smart to keep information and quotes streaming on his feed. That means, while viewers were home watching and tweeting–his tweets were occasionally being seen in viewer’s Twitter feeds as he spoke. His campaign even used #GOPDebate.

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 10.38.48 AM

Even Governor Scott Walker’s campaign team tweeted during the debate.

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 11.17.51 AM

 

Americans need to watch the rhetoric of the candidates, especially on Twitter. After the debate Donald Trump had this to say:

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 11.23.57 AM

Donald Trump’s rhetoric shows a lack of professionalism due to the high pathos of his posts. He needs to build his ethos and his logos during and after the debates. Attacking people is not going to keep working. Also, more concentrated answers on a REAL plan for America would help him keep his momentum. Concentrate on the issues and build the “Make America Great Again” slogan. When Trump talked about Hillary Clinton being at his wedding. I’ve never seen a wedding photo pop up on my Twitter feed so fast. The photo went viral the minute Trump said the Clintons attended his wedding. Fox News commentator baited Donald Trump and he responded exactly how Fox News wanted him to–Trump can blame Fox News commentators for doing so– but one also has a choice on how they will react to the situation. Trump’s reaction made for great television and Trump is again, one soundbite after another on the morning programs. Donald Trump definitely has today’s mindset of the social media age,which is to react and attack.

My best advice to the candidates: Keep your message on point across all media. But, use the social media platform to educate viewers. It’s an opportunity. If you’re not taking all the opportunities you have in media these days, you need to start. Stop reacting and attacking and keep the message strong and clear. You can still state your opinion and not apologize for it, but there are other ways to do so.

With this debate I was intrigued by Dr. Ben Carson. I think he was weak at first. He needs more confidence, more gusto, but his demeanor and some eloquent answers had me curious to find out more about him. I have to agree that Carson had the best closing statement which I shared above.

Presidential campaign season is messy. And as Americans we will have to endure debate after debate to whittle the weak from the strong. The candidates have to remember who they are doing this for and that is for the American people. We want to hear clear plans… clear messages… and less blaming. Help us cut through the social media noise.

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Digital Citizen Month #DigCitizen Interview

July 9, 2015

On July 2 I was interviewed by Ananda Leeke about what digital citizenship means to me. Ananda Leeke and I met at the State of the Union Social in 2014. We have stayed in touch because we are both passionate about digital citizenship/public engagement. The interview was a casual conversation that really inspired me because […]

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2008 to 2016: Hillary Clinton’s Social Media Presidential Campaigns

May 22, 2015

I saw a tweet from former senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer that said:   This tweet reminded me of what I discussed in my dissertation about what Hillary’s 2008 Presidential Campaign lacked: Engagement. In my dissertation I rhetorically analyzed Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain’s campaign blogs. I collected 188 campaign blog posts from Hillary’s campaign website, 1, 491 […]

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Technology in The White House: From the Telegraph to Twitter

May 19, 2015

When I finished my dissertation in 2010 about the 2008 United States Presidential Campaign, my first chapter traced the history of technology through Presidential Campaigns to show the dialogical interaction between candidate and electorate. But, when new technology becomes popular in a campaign the same technology becomes a significant part of the White House. Today, I feel as […]

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Live from the Global Village: Live streaming with Value

April 18, 2015

In the past couple of weeks I have monitored the live streaming applications MeerKat and Periscope. Each time I click on a live stream–I am never sure what I will end up watching–sometimes it’s interesting and sometimes I think regular people should not be allowed to have smart phones. Marshall McLuhan explained the global village: As electrically […]

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Is it about What you Say or Who you Are?: Challenging the Public and Private sphere in the Digital Age

March 31, 2015

The recent events at The University of Oklahoma and the Hillary Clinton emailgate controversy is a teaching moment for everyone who uses technology to communicate. Mobile technology creates a vague definition of what is public and what is private. The screens we look at each day keeps us disconnected from what we know to be […]

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#SocialCivics: A Challenge for the Digital Citizen

March 26, 2015

Today, I read an article by the new White House Chief Digital Officer, Jason Goldman (@goldman). His role, he says in his article The Internet, The White House and You (and Me) is,, “to help create more meaningful online engagement between government and American citizens.” Then Goldman asks for the American citizen’s help: Here’s what I would […]

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International Women of Courage Awards: Celebrate Women’s History Month #IWOC

March 22, 2015

How do you celebrate Women’s History Month? You attend the International Women’s Courage Award ceremony at The State Department. On March 6, 2015, I attended the International Women of Courage Awards at the U.S. Department of State. The State Department folks were very informative and transparent about their goal to engage citizens in new ways. The […]

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West Wing Tour

March 8, 2015

In 2014, during the #SOTUSocial, I took a tour of the White House residence-you know the China room, Blue Room, Green Room, Red Room, East Room, State Dining Room, etc. I also, by chance, saw Bo and Sunny while talking to a Secret Service Agent about the rooms on the first floor.  You can read about my experience […]

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