July 28, 2016
DALLAS (SMU) – SMU experts weigh in on the third day of the Democratic National Convention and the current state of the presidential race. The complete roundup of experts’ insight is offered here, and more convention experts are available here.
'AMERICA ISN’T PERFECT, BUT ONLY TRUMP WILL BRING
THE HELLSCAPE THE GOP DETAILED LAST WEEK'
“Last night was both a valedictory for President Obama and Vice President Biden, but also a direct refutation of the sense of America laid out by Republicans at their Cleveland convention. Crime and poverty are down, the President said; jobs are up; the stock market is up; and hope remains. These ideas or stats weren’t present the week before during the RNC in Ohio, which laid out a stark contrast not only of style but of vision – and one with historical precedent.
“Whenever in recent American history one party has offered a vision of a better past – and another of a better future, the forward-looking candidate always wins. Just ask Bill Clinton in 1996, whose “bridge to the 21st century” stood in stark contrast to Bob Dole’s better America from his youth. Voters ultimately want to move forward, which is why the smart money coming out of this convention will increasingly be on Hillary.”
Engel is director of the SMU Center for Presidential History. He can discuss:
- comparisons to past presidential races
- foreign policy
- presidential rhetoric
DEMOCRATS GO AFTER TRUMP’S CREDIBILITY AND OFFER
CONTRASTING POSITIVE MESSAGE ABOUT STATE OF AMERICA
“Of all the Democratic luminaries, Joe Biden is perhaps the most appealing to blue collar white voters – with whom Hillary Clinton polls very weak – so I think the vice president was trying to chip away a bit from Trump’s appeal and credibility in that sector.
“The mockery on the credibility issue is an attempt to even the score on Clinton’s weakest points – that people don’t trust her. The speeches from Biden, Kaine, President Obama and others were an attempt to turn that around and say, ‘You think Donald Trump tells the truth?’ You think he’s somebody you can trust and believe?
“It will be interesting to see which party’s vision resonates more with Americans this fall: Clinton’s idea that things are pretty good, but we’ve got some more work to do – or Trump’s idea that we’re in a real mess, and we’ve got serious, serious problems.”
Wilson is an SMU associate professor of political science. He can discuss:
- religion and politics
- political psychology
- public opinion and politics
‘AMERICA IS CALLED TO PICK A MOTHER OR FATHER FOR PRESIDENT
AND GUIDE A NEW GENERATION FORWARD’
“A family values theme is emerging for both conventions. A maternal theme emerged at the DNC while a paternal theme was clear at the RNC. In some sense America is called to pick a mother or a father for president and guide a new generation forward.
“President Obama synthesized his message of 'Yes We Can' into a message for Hillary Clinton, and tried to subdue the Trump campaign’s message of fear. His comments about demagogues, and not relying on a single person to fix problems, were paradoxical to some of his own actions that emphasize executive action against legislative dialogue and cooperation. But the president lauded the American people as a source of strength.
“Also, Vice President Biden’s remarks that, ‘We are America, second to none, and we own the finish line,’ invoked a theme of American exceptionalism that was somewhat surprising.”
Voth is SMU’s director of debate and an associate professor of corporate communications and public affairs. He can discuss:
- debate prep, strategy and effectiveness
- comparisons between this debate season and the 2012 election’s debate season
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