The first hypothesis suggested that in the 2008 presidential debates, acclaims would transpire more frequently than attacks, while attacks would be more prevalent in the candidate's discourse than defenses.
In the second presidential debate, McCain articulates his future plans for Medicare as he explains, "My friends, what we have to do with Medicare is have a commission, have the smartest people in America come together, come up with recommendations, and then, we should have Congress vote up or down." When asked a question about his plans for taxing Americans, Obama contrasted his pan with Senator McCain's, "Now, in contrast, Senator McCain wants to give a $300 billion tax cut, $200 billion of it to the largest corporations and a hundred billion of it going to people like CEOs on Wall Street." These examples illustrate the use of acclaims and attacks on themes about future plans.
The fifth hypothesis expected general goals to be employed more frequently as the basis for acclaims (87%) than for attacks (13%).
The final hypothesis predicted that ideals would be used more frequently as acclaims than attacks.
Functions of the Great Debates: Acclaims, attacks, and defense in the 1960 presidential debates.
FUNCTIONS OF LINCOLN DOUGLAS DEBATES Acclaims Attacks Defenses Douglas 414 (42%) 528 (54%) 36 (4%) Lincoln 423 (48%) 384 (43%) 81 (9%) Total 1858 837 (45%) 912 (49%) 117 (6%) Total 1998-2006 * 2370 (56%) 1275 (30%) 593 (42%) * Data from Benoit, Brazeal, & Airne (2007).
Contrary to Functional Theory's (Benoit, 2007) predictions and the findings on recent Senate debates (Benoit, Brazeal, & Aime, 2007), the Lincoln-Douglas debates did not acclaim more than they attacked.
The first hypothesis predicted that the frequency of the three functions, acclaims would be most common, followed by attacks, and, finally, defenses.
The next hypothesis expected that the incumbent party candidate would use past deeds more for acclaims, and less for attacks, than the challengers.
Acclaims were more common than attacks and defenses were the least frequent function.
Candidates in all countries studied so far use both general goals and ideals more often as the basis for acclaims than attacks, although in Israel, as in Australia, there were not enough ideals to test statistically.
Bush (the incumbent party candidate) acclaims and defends more than Dukakis (the challenger party candidate), while Dukakis attacks more than Bush.
Research on television spots in the 1996 campaign (Benoit, Blaney, & Pier, 1998) revealed an imbalance in the acclaims and attacks produced by Clinton and Dole.
Acclaims portray the candidate or the candidate's party favorably.
Second, the topic of acclaims and attacks were classified according to these rules: