Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Crawford, Paul K.||Wood, Margaret Louise||Tucker, Charles O.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Speech


Muskie; Edmund S.; 1914-; Public speaking


This analysis of Senator Edmund S. Muskie's 1968 Vice-Presidential campaign speaking was intended to consider the implications that the Senator’s speaking provided for both the fields of rhetoric and political science. Based on the assumption that rhetoric is the means by which men carry out their political lives, this paper is concerned with the influence and impact that the Senator’s speaking had on the political process. On the basis of the commentaries of political scientists, newspapers and magazine accounts of the campaign, and the transcripts of the texts of the Senator’s speeches, as provided by his offices, three primary perspectives were developed. ,, in accordance with the concepts advanced by such communication theorists as Wayne Brockriede, it appeared that the situational elements surrounding the 1968 Presidential election dictated the issues to be discussed in the campaign. Second, while the issues may have been dictated by the times, a crucial area to be considered was the positions that the Senator developed relative to any given issue. For, third, it was the choice of position which gave his political speaking its meaning and import. The question here is not what a man talks about, for that is largely dictated by his times. Rather, it is to consider the man’s response to his times and the implications that his speaking holds for his time and his society. In evaluating the Senator's speaking, it was concluded that in many ways the Senator provided a counterbalance to the mood of the country. At a time when the nation seemed to be polarizing into differing groups, Senator Muskie attempted to provide a means by which people could unite in an attempt to enhance their corporate lives. Senator Muskie demonstrated the ability to talk with a wide variety of audiences and to develop methods of expressing his commonality with them. Through his language, his argumentation, and his forms of support, he seemed able to identify himself with the beliefs and goals of the audience and to utilize that identification to remind the audience of its relationship with other groups in the society. The Senator's speeches, both explicitly and implicitly, stressed the need for a reasoned, thoughtful consideration of the issues. His explicit appeal for reason was reinforced by his own emphasis on logical argumentation to substantiate his positions. This logical approach, blended with subtle emotional and ethical appeal, was a reflection of the Senator's belief that a political campaign was more than an attempt to attract votes, for it was also the means by which men explored and explained the issues that were of importance to the functioning of their society. The speaking of Senator Edmund S. Muskie, not only provided a reflection of his time, but more importantly, it implied that even in the most divisive political climate, a speaker can develop positions which will allow men to come together and resolve their differences. In contrast to the mood of his time, the Senator approached the major issues of the moment through a reasoned development of his positions. This thoughtful consideration of the issues indicated that a speaker may respond to his time in a variety of ways, Muskie chose to respond to the issues by stressing the need for men to come together, to find ideas where they could establish agreement, and to then formulate policies which will enhance their corporate lives.


Includes bibliographical references.||Appendices include speeches and remarks of Edmund S. Muskie and are independently paginated.


iv, 140, 13, 8, 16, 13, 10, 4 pages




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