View Full Version : Obama's stump speech plays to fears, hopes

09-08-2008, 11:59 AM
As Barack Obama paces before 15,000 people with a hand-held microphone, it's easy to assume his 30-minute talk is more or less a free-associating string of talking points and applause lines.

In fact, it's a carefully organized four-part argument.

Obama delivers it without notes or changes from week to week. A campaign centerpiece for 19 months, the full-blown stump speech probably has done more than anything to rocket him to fame and to a lead over Republican John McCain in some national polls.

Obama has modified the speech over time, testing new lines and adapting to political events. The biggest change came when he finally secured the Democratic nomination and was able to sharpen his criticisms of McCain and drop his more cautious critiques of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

President Bush has been a central target from the start. And the stump speech's overall feel and organization have remained remarkably similar for at least a year. He nearly always includes several key lines, including "Now is our time, "If you will stand with me," and "We can change the world."