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The Oratory of Dwight D. Eisenhower

  • Mara Oliva
Chapter
Part of the Rhetoric, Politics and Society book series (RPS)

Abstract

This chapter opens the collection with an examination of Dwight D. Eisenhower and his success at becoming the 34th President of the United States with a landslide victory, ending a string of Democratic wins that stretched back to 1932.

Eisenhower’s oratorical prowess and universal popularity among both Republican and Democratic voters was the key element of his electoral success. He inspired confidence with his plain talk, reassuring smiles and heroic image. He kept a demanding schedule, travelling 45 states and speaking to large crowds from the caboose of this campaign train. The slogan ‘I like Ike’ quickly became part of the political language of America. He also got his message to the American people through 30-second television advertisements, the first-time TV commercials played a major role in a presidential election.

Ike’s personal charm was combined with a very clever campaign strategy. He presented himself as the perfect antidote to the corrupt and soft-on-communism Truman administration. Voters saw him as the man who could clean up the mess in Washington and get the country out of the stalemated Korean War, and the GOP saw him as the man who could bring the party back into the White House. Even more impressive than Eisenhower’s landslide victory was his ability to protect and maintain his popularity among the American people throughout the eight years of his presidency. When he left the White House in January 1961, his approval rating was 78 per cent.

Through the use of key speeches and public appearances from the 1952 convention to his farewell address of 1961, the aim of this chapter is to explore how he succeeded in preserving and projecting his image as one of the United States’ most loved presidents. The study will focus especially on three issues: (1) his skilful performance as an orator, (2) his canning use of media and new technologies and (3) his relationship with the party and Congress.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mara Oliva
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ReadingReadingUK

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