An Evolving Campaign Genre
It seems that the days of a big announcement speech on the steps of an old state capital, or a homestead, or from a front porch, are gone. Now we have the “announcement video,” posted on the campaign Web site, YouTube, and wherever else. Along with the announcement video may come some event–like Bachmann’s planned announcement in Iowa, or Romney’s coming up this week–but the video lingers and lasts as some preliminary statement of candidacy, character, and relevance.
As with all campaign discourse, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Announcement videos are an evolving genre of campaign rhetoric, and as such are borrowing freely from already existing rhetorical forms. Some are direct address videos, where the candidate speaks straight to the camera. Others borrow from advertising conventions, with lush footage of scenes from the heartland. Note how this video, from Herman Cain, features the candidate emerging from the heartland at the outset of the video, as if called to public service, impelled to leadership by the promise of the nation’s future and greatness, and not from personal ambition or desire.