Anatomy of a Clinton Stump Speech

Hillary Clinton has gone from first lady to Senate candidate and on to presidential candidate. Along the way, she has changed emphasis many times — most recently adopting the role of populist champion for working families left out in recent eras of prosperity.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris.

We are fast approaching another Tuesday of voting in the presidential race. Tomorrow, Indiana and North Carolina hold primaries. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have attended countless events, trying to connect with voters. And aside from the beer drinking and the pickup basketball games, their stump speeches still capture the heart of their messages. We wanted to give you a sense of what Obama and Clinton had been saying and how their messages have evolved.

So we asked our correspondents who've been covering the race to take us on a tour of a stump speech. In a moment we'll hear from NPR's Don Gonyea on the words of Barack Obama.

First, to NPR's David Greene with his ear to the stump while he's traveling with Hillary Clinton.

DAVID GREENE: The scene yesterday was the Indiana Institute of Technology in Fort Wayne.

Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York): Good morning. Wow, I'll tell you it is such a great day to be here at Indiana Tech, and I want to thank...

GREENE: Clinton was in a college atrium. She was delivering the kind of speech she'll give maybe five, six times a day. One signature of her stump speech is when she tells her audience how she's been sitting down with people just like them.

Sen. CLINTON: So for us it's been a great joy to go throughout this state in the springtime to so many different parts of the communities, to meet with people from their living rooms to their pick-up trucks to their labor halls to their businesses, and to listen and hear what's on folks's minds.

GREENE: She had heard what was on Johnnie Parker's mind a few days before when she visited his home in Hobart, Indiana. Let's rewind. Here's a bit of what Johnnie told Senator Clinton.

Mr. JOHNNIE PARKER: When I go to gas pumps, I see a lot of people that are sitting there at their gas pumps, and they just can't believe how much money they're spending.

GREENE: And with that Johnnie became part of Clinton's stump speech, including in Fort Wayne.

Sen. CLINTON: And I met over in Hobart with a family that told me that they just can't believe what it takes to go and fill up their tank.

GREENE: She also told the crowd about the morning she spent with one sheet metal worker.

Sen. CLINTON: I drove to work with a young man in South Bend, and we stopped to him have him fill-up the tank of his pickup; $63 for half a tank.

Unidentified Male #1: Ninety-five.

Sen. CLINTON: Ninety-five?

Unidentified Male #2: A hundred and two.

Sen. CLINTON: A hundred and two. What else?

GREENE: It was audience participation. People started yelling out how much they've paid for gas. It's the kind of moment that helps Clinton seem like the populist who will stand for working people. She is increasingly gone for that image as the campaign's moved to states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana.

Sen. CLINTON: I think we've got to get back to having a president who answers to the American people, not to the wealthy, the well-connected, the special interests and all the others.

(Soundbite of applause)

Sen. CLINTON: And so as you look at my specific plans, I think you will see that I understand what folks are up against now, and that I am going to give you the support that we need together to change things.

GREENE: And so she's talking about change, but not necessarily an overhaul in Washington. Clinton's argument is that the system worked fine when her husband was in charge. It's just that the wrong guy has been at the helm since.

Sen. CLINTON: We have been really out of balance under George Bush. You've got the wealthy, the well connected, the cronies, the no-bid contracts, they sure have been taken care of, and everybody else has been left to fend for themselves.

GREENE: Clinton said people who've been left out could count on her to fight for them. She often points to her campaign to try and prove her resilience.

Sen. CLINTON: I wanted to wage a campaign from one end of Indiana to the other. And I think between my husband, my daughter and me, we've made 95 stops in Indiana.

(Soundbite of applause)

GREENE: Clinton's been giving a speech like this one for weeks now.

Sen. CLINTON: Let's make it happen on Tuesday. Thank you and God bless you, and God bless America.

GREENE: If Clinton has her way, she'll be returning to this speech for more weeks to come.

(Soundbite of music)

GREENE: David Greene, NPR News, traveling with the Clinton campaign.

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Presidential Candidates on the Stump

Stump speeches have long been a hallmark of a presidential campaign. Here's a sampling of the candidates' typical speeches on the campaign trail.

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