Category Archives: Communication Strategy

Trump Talks the Talk | US News | 8.10.2017

Brilliant or reckless? What is going on with President Donald Trump and his mouth … uh, his rhetoric? Well, to start, by and large his prepared speeches have been excellent, even brilliant. Think of his address to the joint session of Congress. Yes, Republicans were ready to cheer, but the real question of the night […]
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Trump and Twitter: Message to Washington — Let It Be! | Ricochet | 1.14.2017

Count me as a dissenter on the biggest question facing Washington: Should Donald Trump be allowed (whatever that means) to keep his Twitter account? With one voice, Washington shouts, “No. No. No.” I reply, “Yes. Yes. Yes.” I spent seven years in the Reagan Administration. My assignments ranged from management review of the government, to […]
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Afterward for Vel Talt (Norwegian for Talk Well) by Kjell Terje Ringdal (H. Aschehoug, Oslo, 2014)

Some years ago a friend – another former speechwriter for a U.S. president — asked me to talk to a group of Scandinavians about working in the White House.  Every year since then, I have addressed Kjell Ringdal’s Washington Seminar. Each November, the seminars bring to this capital city Norwegian and Swedish journalists, legislators and […]
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Obamacare, Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell and Ken Cucchinelli: Lessons in Political Communications | | 10.24.13

The government is up and running full tilt again.  It can borrow as much as it wishes until next February.  But before moving on entirely, I wanted to share three notes on three men whose roles tell us something about what happened and what’s next: Ted Cruz: Senator Cruz addressed the American Spectator annual dinner last night.  […]
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GOP Wise Up: New Media = Smarter Campaigns | Ricochet | 03.13.13

I was in a meeting with a nationally respected consultant to political campaigns this morning. We were talking about how the web had changed campaigns. His answer: Substance is becoming king. “Take endorsements,” he said. “When TV drove campaigns, all you would see about newspaper editorials in campaign advertising was the banner, ‘L.A. Times or […]
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What Will Tonight’s SOTU Tell Us? | | 2.12.12

Do we even need to ask?  Mr. Obama’s recent inaugural address was 1937 all over again.  It seems government can achieve anything by decree, except revive the sick economy.  This SOTU is being advertised as a “bookend” to the inaugural — bookends without books, I suppose.  Mainly, as with after-the-fact edits to the Congressional Record, […]
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SOTU Address To Double Down on Climate Change. Why? Why now? | | 2.11.13

In case anyone doubted, the White House has indicated that in tomorrow night’s State of the Union address, President Obama will follow through on his inaugural address calling out of climate change as a major policy focus in his second term. Whether you come from a perspective of science, economics or politics, you’ve got to […]
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Does White House Post on Churchill Bust Give Clue to Secret Social Media Campaign to Discredit Critics? | | 07.30.12

Last Friday presidential communications director Dan Pfeiffer posted a diatribe on the White House blog.  Did it point to an undercover part of the administration’s reelection campaign, a secret social media section assigned not just to rebut charges but to discredit critics? The post was the now-famous mistaken denial that the president had ever had […]
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Three Tips for Political Communication | | 01.11.12

When it comes to making your case to the voters, here are three tips for every candidate to keep in mind. I. Communication is simple – and hard: Simple:Let’s start with the simple part: communicating has three elements, only three – strategy, message, and distribution. To put them to use, all you have to do […]
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News of the World Scandal: Murdoch Should Take Ronald Reagan as his Model | | 7.11.11

The two big stories of the past week have been the budget negotiations between the President and Congress and, amazingly enough, a scandal at a British tabloid all but unknown to most Americans, News of the World. By now most Americans know the top line facts about the News of the World fiasco.  The paper […]
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Tonight’s Presidential Address | | 03.28.11

Here is some advice to the White House about tonight’s presidential television address. I take an interest in presidential speech giving.  I wrote speeches in the White House for nearly two-thirds of the Reagan presidency, the first half of that time for the Vice President, second half for the President. Presidential rhetoric is an instrument […]
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Gulf Oil Speech: Administration Dead in the Water | | 06.21.10

It is no news now, but on Tuesday last week, President Obama delivered the least effective Oval Office address since Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” speech.  Why? It wasn’t just the awkward use of his hands, the hackneyed and inappropriate wartime metaphors, the equally banal “if we could land a man on the moon” drivel.  All that […]
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Capitalism by Proxy Fight | Wall Street Journal | 11.22.09

It’s no secret that sometime in the fall of 2008, the waters of the Potomac River began to flow into the Hudson. With the vast underwriting of Wall Street financial firms by the government, a handful of corporate executives received a searing education on Washington rules under klieg lights. Now the world of politics is […]
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Obama Inauguration Speech Marks Moment Solidly and Well | U.S. News & World Report | 01.21.09

As a former presidential speechwriter, I have been asked over and over in interviews how I would grade President Barack Obama’s inaugural address. My answer: solid A. Not A plus, like Jefferson’s first inaugural or both of Lincoln’s or Franklin Roosevelt’s first or JFK’s or Reagan’s first—but a solid A nonetheless. Like most incoming presidents […]
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An American Speech | New York Times Blog | 01.20.09

President Barack Obama delivered a deeply American inaugural address. He called for putting aside old rivalries and hostilities, as did Abraham Lincoln in both of his inaugurals. He put forward his view of the current crisis and the principles he will follow in meeting it, as did Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan when they were […]
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Farewell Themes in the State of the Union | NPR – Morning Edition | 1.28.08

President Bush is set to deliver his last State of the Union address Monday night. Like Presidents Reagan and Clinton before him, it will mark the last such address of a two-term presidency. “The State of the Union address is very much an address of the great themes of a presidency together with the moment […]
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Say What They Want to Hear — And, if Possible, Mean It | Wall Street Journal | 01.23.07

A few weeks after President Reagan delivered his 1988 State of the Union address, Dick Wirthlin, the president’s pollster, met with the White House speechwriting staff, of which I was a member. In the first and only presentation of its kind to Reagan’s writers, Dick shared the results of a new polling technique: pulse, or […]
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Video: Clark Judge on NewsHour with Jim Lehrer | PBS | 01.03.07

On the eve of President George W. Bush’s 2007 State of the Union address, Clark Judge, Managing Director of the White House Writers Group and former presidential speechwriter, discussed the process of crafting the President’s remarks. Click the following link to view the interview: Clark Judge on NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
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Bearing the Burden of Writing the Speech | Wall Street Journal | 08.24.05

Three days before his inauguration, as Time magazine correspondent Hugh Sidey sat down to interview him, president-elect John F. Kennedy was scribbling on a yellow pad, crossing out words and scribbling more. The two men were on JFK’s campaign plane, flying from Palm Beach, Fla., to Washington. Kennedy was writing his inaugural address and eager […]
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Nike and the First Amendment | Hoover Digest | 12.08.03

In early January, the Supreme Court announced that it would review what some have called the most significant First Amendment case in a generation: Kasky v. Nike, Inc. et al. (2002). At the heart of this case is the long-debated distinction between commercial and political speech now forced by a simple question: If speech is […]
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Expanded Legal Privilege Needed For Litigation Public Relations | Washington Legal Foundation | 10.03.03

Unless you are a devotee of the legal and public relations trade press, you probably missed a small but important story about one of the essential rules of the litigation and prosecution game. On June 2nd, a U.S. District Court judge in Manhattan reaffirmed that under some circumstances some public relations advisors to some attorneys […]
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P.R. Lessons From the Pentagon | Wall Street Journal | 04.01.03

As bombs drop and bullets fly, the global media has turned a growing part of its coverage of the Iraqi war to the subject it knows best — itself. But as the war thickens, the embedded reporters will continue to be a brilliant strategy by the Pentagon — one that should echo in the rules […]
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