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Madi Brown
Mr. Henriksen
English 1010
November 3, 2016
Michelle Obama's Use of Rhetorical Appeal
Rhetoric can be described as a strategy used to persuade, motivate, or convince ones audience to
take action. Authors can use different rhetorical strategies to appeal to their audience. Michelle
Obamas speech at the Clinton Rally in New Hampshire on Donald Trump's alleged treatment of
women from October 2016 is a perfect example of an author using multiple rhetorical appeals. In
this speech, Obama discussed her views and reasons why she believes Trump is not fit to be
president. She gained the trust of the audience by stating universal truths, (such as women should
not be mistreated) and then guided the listeners to believe that because they agree with the stated
truth, it negates all Trumps other qualities that qualify him for president. While others may argue
that Obama's use of logic was most effective in persuading any listeners against Trump, I will
argue that her use of logic created an emotional response in her reader. This emotional response
persuaded her audience against Trump.
In her speech, Obama suggested that Trump is not an acceptable candidate for president
many times and in many different ways. One of the ways she did this was by showing how his
alleged treatment of women has made him someone we would not want to lead our country. She
started out by telling about her experience with the Let Girls Learn foundation and how
important it was that she was able to tell underprivileged girls that they should be treated
dignity and respect and that they should disregard anyone who demeans or devalues
them(1). She created a foundation based on truth to validate that what Trump has been saying

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about women is wrong. Most listeners, in her audience or not, would agree with the idea that
women should be treated with dignity and respect (1). After she showed her audience how
women should be treated, she suggested that Trump is doing exactly the opposite. She used
specific examples and terms, such as locker-room banter and his shameful comments about
our bodies (2), to create a sense of validity in what she was suggesting. She also created a sense
of disgust in Trump and what he is associated with by comparing him to any man that has made a
woman feel violated or abused.
This comparison leads into the use of emotional appeals rather than logic. Obama
successfully appeals to many people. She shows that we do not want out little children growing
up and thinking this kind of treatment to women is okay. She says that we dont want any
women, especially our young daughters exposed to this kind of vicious language(3). She also
explains that there are many people who are worried about the impact this election is having on
our boys who are looking for role models of what it means to be a man. This statement would
definitely appeal to many people including parents with young children, single mothers, and
grandparents that loves a child that could be negatively effected by following Trumps example .
She uses their emotions to show that a leader with those standards is not fit to lead.
Mid-way through her speech, Obama makes the transition from showing things that make
Trump not a qualified to be a leader to showing that everything Clinton has done makes her
capable and equipped to become a great leader. The tone of the speech switches when Obama
stops talking about Trump and starts talking about Clinton. For example, when talking about
Trump, Obama says, This is not how adults behave, This is disgraceful, and Strong menmen who are truly role models- dont need to put down women to make themselves feel
powerful (3). And when talking about Clinton, Obama says, People who are truly strong lift

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others up, We need someone who will heal the wounds that divide us, someone who truly cares
about us and our children, someone with strength and compassion to lead this country
forward(3). When talking about Clinton, Obama focuses on only the good things that make
Clinton a good leader, disregarding all things that could possibly hurt her image. By doing this,
she showed the obvious presidential candidate. She established that Clinton has plenty of
experience in politics and that she cares about the people in this country. Obama created a clear
picture for who she wanted her audience to vote for.
Near the end of her speech, Obama encouraged her audience to vote. She tells them that
they have the ability to stop the madness (4) in this election. She tells them that they have
knowledge, a voice, and a vote (5), and with that vote, they can help make a better future
for their children. By showing her audience they have an opportunity to actually make a
difference, they are inspired to get their friends and family out to vote for Clinton.
In conclusion, I believe that Obama's use of rhetorical appeals successfully created an
emotional and logical response from her audience. She successfully showed how many universal
truths disqualified Trump as a leader. Lastly, she shared why Clinton would be successful as
president and how her past experiences qualify her as a leader. I believe that by using all of these
strategies and appeals to the audience, Obama successfully persuaded her audience to vote and
gain support for Clinton.