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Title: Did Obamacare encourage business to hire more people? - an analysis of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama’s use of rhetorical questions in the 2012 US presidential election campaign
Authors: Wong, SMC
Yap, FH 
Issue Date: 7-Jun-2014
Source: Hong Kong Association for Applied Linguistics (HAAL), 5th HAAL Conference, 7th June 2014, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong How to cite?
Abstract: This study examines how the use of rhetorical questions (RQs) by presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in the 2012 US presidential election varies depending on the target audience, i.e. (1) Democrat-safe states, (2) Republican-safe states, and (3) swing states. We then examine their use of RQs in their political speeches in terms of (1) usage frequency, (2) question type, (3) topic, and (4) function. Our findings reveal that both candidates tended to ask more RQs in the states that leaned more toward to their political rival in comparison to their own safe states. The use of rhetorical questions not only enhanced the persuasiveness of their messages, but also provided them a useful means to take cover and avoid directly engaging in face-threatening acts when criticizing each other. This study elucidates how politicians use effective communication strategies to compete for votes in election campaigns.
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