Editors' introduction to the special issue.

Author:Palczewski, Catherine H.

In February 2012, as a vigorous campaign was being mounted, Mitchell McKinney approached us with the idea of guest editing a special issue on presidential debates. We took him up on his offer and agreed to devote our last issue as editors of Argumentation and Advocacy to a special issue devoted to the study of presidential debates. Obviously, we did not know at the time that the presidential debates of 2012 would be so memorable.

Due to the memorability of the debates, some pundits declared that the first presidential debate had proved pivotal in Romney's election bid. Others, such as Nate Silver (former high school debater and founder of the blog fivethirtyeight), were less persuaded about the relevance of presidential debates. In short, professional observers view presidential debates as somewhere between election-determining events and almost irrelevant.

In this atmosphere, the authors in this special issue examine the importance of the 2012 presidential primary and general election debates. The authors examine the types of claims made in debates, the use of humor in debates, and the manner in which threats to face are dealt with in debates. The authors also look at the reactions of audiences...

To continue reading