In her 2016 speech on Donald Trump’s professed poor treatment of women, given in Manchester, New Hampshire to an audience at a Hillary Clinton campaign event, First Lady Michelle Obama used various devices such as changes in tone, praise, and creating a sense of unity with her audience to get her point across.
To start off her impactful speech, Mrs. Obama thanked the crowd for being there and her hosts for providing her with the opportunity to speak. By taking the time to thank everyone in the audience as well as the people they more likely than not politically support, she makes everyone feel that “New Hampshire is going to be important, as always.” This helps her create a more personal and meaningful tone to her speech later on as she delves into the deeper task of criticizing the words of presidential candidate Donald Trump, opponent of Hillary Clinton, whom Mrs. Obama openly supports. Having created this positive atmosphere at first allowed for her to get her message across in a way that seems more intimate rather than it would have if she had just jumped right into the topic of Clinton’s opponent’s harmful words and allegations on the matter of sexual assault.
Soon after her introductions and thank-yous, Mrs. Obama established a notable change in tone as she focused in on her work with young women and the effects that various public figure’s words and actions have on their lives and hers. She began by affectionately talking about her celebration of the International Day of the Girl at the White House that Tuesday, gushing over the attendees and how “the measure of any society is how it treats its women and girls.” Quickly afterwards, however, she got into the topic of how americans lately have been “consistently been hearing hurtful, hateful, language about women” without saying any names. While she never mentions Donald Trump directly, she does make discreet references to him, understanding that she does not need to state who she’s talking about due to the widespread coverage of Trump’s insensitive words and sexual assault allegations with numerous women. The fact that she never states his name also shows that she has greater issues to discuss than his poor decisions and behavior, such as the importance of voting and Hillary’s qualifications for the job of President. By changing from being cheerful to serious, Mrs. Obama makes it clear to the audience that the topic of how a candidate for President of the United States has frequently “bragged about sexually assaulting women” is serious and “not something we can just sweep under the rug.”
Throughout her speech, Mrs. Obama makes connections with her intended audience, women and democrats, on the topic of sexism and the importance of voting by creating a sense of unity between her and the audience. For a portion of her speech she discusses how discouraging and disturbing the recent sexual assault allegations against a presidential candidate have been, relating “that feeling of terror and violation that too many women have felt” to her audience. Bringing to focus the fact that “too many women” have gone through this form of assault, Mrs. Obama creates a sense of unity with her crowd and prompts the idea that this type of treatment is unacceptable – especially for a presidential candidate. Shortly after addressing this subject, Mrs.Obama moves on to tell her audience that their voices, especially as women, are important in this upcoming election. Most of the audience being Obama supporters, she references the fact that “women’s votes were the difference between Barack winning and losing… including right here in New Hampshire.” By doing this, she makes the audience once again feel heard and important, just as she did at the beginning of her speech.
Mrs. Obama’s ability to connect with her audience through praise and a sense of unity made her message earlier this October stand out to her intended audience – women. While her audience may have not necessarily needed this extra boost considering they were at one of candidate Hillary Clinton’s support events, she made sure that every person felt as though their voice was going to and needed to be heard this November in the 2016 presidential election. Without once mentioning Donald Trump’s name, Mrs. Obama made it clear who she thought was most fit to be president of the United States for the next four years, and got her message across on the importance of women’s votes.
“We have knowledge. We have a voice. We have a vote.”
-Michelle Obama, New Hampshire, October 13th 2016