Vice President Joe Biden may be the only public speaker who veers off course more than Bill Clinton, but a comparison of his written and spoken text from last night's convention address reveals a very different lesson in the art of speech making.
Once again we've compared the prepared remarks distributed by the Democratic Party, with the oral transcript of the speech Biden delivered and find two widely divergent addresses. In fact, Biden deviated from the script in almost every sentence, frequently adding and dropping phrases, rearranging words and occasionally repeating himself, either for emphasis or while battling crowd noise.
The difference between him and Clinton is that while the former president inserted entire passages from memory, changed direction on the fly, and included a few lengthy personal asides, Biden's alterations were mostly the result of his delivery style. He stuck to all the basic ideas of the speech, but let his natural cadence and rhythm dictate how it was actually spoken. By not reading directly from the script — particularly when telling "stories" from his memory — it never feels like he's just a guy reading directly from a script. While Clinton comes off as the brainy charmer who can think on his feet, Biden's speech is the more emotional one, which plays to his strengths as a speaker and a spokesperson for the administration.
You can even see while reading just the prepared remarks how Biden (or his speechwriter) tried to account for his personal style, including numerous uses of words like "folks" and "look" and "let me tell you"s — things you wouldn't normally write down in a formal address. The result is a speech that automatically sounds like it's coming from the heart. Even the occasional flubbed line only adds to the authenticity.
One thing they didn't account for, however, was Biden's aggressive use of the word "literally." It didn't appear once in the written version, but Biden used it 10 times from the podium, to the derision of more than a few Twitter users.
Now compare both these approaches to President Barack Obama, who is known for his rhetorical flourishes, but delivered his speech almost word-for-word as it was put down on paper. When looking at the written vs. spoken versions of his speech, we found only seven instances when he made any changes at all; usually just the addition of a short throwaway line that barely took him off track. Outside of the brief intro of his family, he only altered two lines that were already in the speech. (He changed "wrecking the middle class" to "sticking it to" and pointedly swapped out a Google reference for Steve Jobs. His callback to Clinton's "arithmetic" line and a few extra "You did that"'s were merely harmless additions.)
None of the three approaches are better or worse than the other, but between Clinton, Biden, and Obama, we caught a glimpse of three very different kinds of speech making and three statesmen who have made a living on using each to their particular advantage.
For a full accounting, here's Biden's prepared remarks with additions highlighted in green and his deletions in
red. You can even read along with the video.
Hello My fellow Democrats, and my favorite Democrat.
Jilly, I want you to know that Beau, Hunt, Ashley, and I we're so incredibly proud are so proud of you, kid. You know, We admire the way
you treat every single student who walks into your classroom. the way when every single solitary young person — and they're not all young — walk into your classroom You not only teach them. You give them confidence. You give me confidence And the passion you bring she brings to trying to ease ing the burden on the families of our warriors. Jilly, They know you understand them what they're going through. It And that makes a gigantic difference. And I'm grateful. So grateful that you said Yes on that fifth try. And folks, I tell you what, it was worth the trip to hear my wife say what I've never heard her say before: She's always loved me. If that's the case, why in the heck did it take five times of asking you? And that's true. Five times. I don't know what I would have done, kiddo, had you on that fifth time said no. I love you. You're the love of my life and the life of my love.
We've got three incredible kids. And Beau, I want to thank you for
placing putting my name in nomination to be Vice President of the United States. I accept. I accept. With great honor and pleasure, I accept. Thank you. Thank you, my fellow Democrats. Thank you, my fellow Democrats.
And I say to my fellow Americans: My fellow Americans, four years ago, a battered nation turned away from the failed policies of the past—and turned to a leader—who they knew,
could would lift our nation out of the crisis. Our journey isn’t finished. a journey — a journey we haven't finished yet. We know We still have more to do. But today, I say to you, my fellow citizens: In the face of the deepest economic crisis in our lifetime s-- this nation proved this generation of Americans has proven itself We're as worthy as any generation that has gone before us. The For we pressess [sic/possess?] that same grit, the that same determination, the that same courage, that has always defined what it ’s means t to be an American— is in you. has always defined all of you
Together we're on a mission. We're on a mission to move this nation forward—from doubt and downturn, to promise and prosperity. A mission I guarantee you we will complete
we will continue and a mission we will complete.
Folks, tonight, I really want to do is tell you about my friend Barack Obama. No one could tell it as well or as eloquently as Michelle — as you did last night, Michelle — on Monday night. But I know him, to state the obvious, from a different perspective.
The Barack Obama I’ve come to know. I know him, and I want to show you — I want to show you the character of a leader—who had what it took, when the American people literally stood at on the brink of a new Depression. A leader who has what it takes to lead us over the next four years--to a future as great as our people.
I want to take you inside the White House to see the President, as I see him every day. Because I don’t see him in sound bites. I walk 30 paces down the hall,
30 steps in to the Oval Office, and I see him, I watch him in action.
Four years ago,
middle class incomes were already falling. the middle class was already losing ground, and Then the bottom fell out. The financial crisis hit like a sledgehammer on all the people I grew up with. You remember the headlines: You saw some of them in the previews. “Markets Plummet Worldwide”, “Highest Job Losses in 60 Years”, and “Economy on the Brink”Highlight: Highest job losses in 60 years. Headlines: Economy on the brink; markets plummet worldwide.
From the very moment President Obama sat behind the
Resolute desk desk, resolute, in the Oval Office, he knew he had not only to restore the confidence not only of thea nation-- but he had to restore the confidence of the whole world. And he also knew, that one false move could bring a run on the banks, or a credit collapse, t hat could throw to put another several million s people out of work. America and the world needed a strong president with a steady hand,and with the judgment and vision to see us through.
Day after day, night after night, I sat beside him, as he made one gutsy decision after
another the other--to stop the slide and reverse it. I watched him. (Applause.) I watched him stand up. I watched him stand up to intense pressure and stare down choices of enormous consequence. enormous, enormous challenges, the consequences of which were awesome. But Most of all, I saw got to see firsthand what drove him: His profound concern for the average American people.
He knew, that no matter how tough the decisions he had to make were in
the that Oval Office were, he knew that families all over America sitting at their kitchen tables had to make were literally making decisions every bit as tough for them—as they sat around their kitchen tables. for their family that were equally as consequential.
You know, Barack and I
have we've been through a lot together these four years And we’ve learned about one another a lot about each other one another. And one of the things I learned about Barack is of the enormity of his heart. And I think he learned of about me the depth of my loyalty to him. And there 's another thing was another thing that has bound us together these past four years. We both had a pretty good idea what these all those families all you Americans in trouble were going through--in part because our own families had gone through similar struggles.
Barack as a young man had to sit at the end of his
mom's mother's hospital bed and watch her fight cancer and fight with her insurance companies at the very same time she was fighting for her life. When I was a young kid in third grade, but I can remember the day that my dad coming up the stairs in my grandpop's house where we were living, sat sitting at the end of my bed, and said, things are going to be tough saying, Joey, I'm going to have to leave for a while. I have to go to Delaware to get a new job. But it's going to be better for us. Gone — go down to Wilmington, Delaware, with Uncle Franks. They're good jobs down there, honey. And in a little while — a little while, I'll be able to send for you and mom and Jimmy and Val, and everything's going to be fine. The rest of my life, my For the rest of our life, my sister and my brothers, for the rest of our life, dad never failed to remind me us--that a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about respect. It's about your place in the community. It’s about being able to look your child ren in the eye—and say honey, it’s going to be okay, and believe it was going to be okay. and mean it, and know it's true.
When Barack and I were growing up, there was an implicit understanding. in America that If you took responsibility, you’d get a fair shot at a better
deal life. And The values behind that deal bargain--were the values that shaped us both both of us and many, many of you.. And today, they those same values are Barack’s guiding star.
Folks, I’ve watched him. He
never wavers has never wavered. He never, never backs down. He always steps up. and He always asks the same thing over and over again every one of those critical meetings the same fundamental question: How is this going to work for ordinary families? affect the average American? How is this going to affect people's lives? That's what's inside this man. That's what makes him tick. That's who he is. Will it help them?
And folks, because of the decisions he’s made, and the incredible strength of the American people
have demonstrated every day, America has turned the corner. After the worst job loss since the Great Depression, we’ve since created 4.5 million private sector jobs in the past 29 months.
Look, folks. President Obama and Governor Romney
are they're both loving husbands and they're both devoted fathers. But let's be straight. But they bring a vastly different vision and a vastly different values set and visions to the job.
And tonight — tonight, although you've heard people talk about it, I want to talk about two things from a slightly different perspective, from my perspective.
Tonight I’d like to focus on two crises-- that show and show you the character of the leadership that each man will bring to the job. because as I said, I've had a ringside seat. The first of these a lot's been talked about.
And God love Jennifer Granholm. Wasn't she great? Wasn't she great? I love Jennifer.
But The first story I want to talk to you about is the rescue of the automobile industry. And let me tell you — let me tell you — from this man's ringside seat, Let me tell you about how Barack Obama saved more than
1 a million American jobs. In our first days in office, In the first — in the first days, literally the first days that we took office General Motors and Chrysler were literally on the verge of liquidation. If the President didn’t act immediately, there wouldn’t be any industry left to save.
So we sat hour after hour in the Oval Office. Michelle remembers how it must have — what he must have thought when she — he came back upstairs. We sat. We sat hour after hour. We listened to Senators, Congressmen, outside advisors, even some of our own advisors
say and we listened to them to say some of the following things --They said, well, we shouldn’t step in, the risks werewas too high, the outcome too uncertain. And The President patiently he patiently sat there and he listened. But he didn’t see it their way the way they did. He understood something they didn’t get.. He understood that this wasn’t just about cars. It was about the Americans people who built and made those cars and about the America they built
In those meetings, I often thought about my dad. My dad was an automobile man. He would have been one of those guys—all the way down the line—not
in on the factory floor,—not along the supply chain—but one of those guys who were selling American cars to the American people. I thought about what this crisis would have meant for the mechanics, and the secretaries, and the sales people who he my dad managed for over 35 years. And I know for certain, I know for certain that if my dad were he here today, he'd would be fighting like heck for the for this President, who because the president fought to save all those jobs, his job, and the jobs of all the those people he my dad cared so much about. Ladies and gentlemen, my dad — (applause) — my dad respected Barack Obama He would have respected Barack Obama had he been around for having had the guts to stand up for the automobile industry, when so many others just were prepared to walk ed away.
You know, When I look back now on the President’s decision, I
also think of another son of another automobile man--Mitt Romney. Mitt — no, no — Mitt Romney — Mitt Romney grew up in Detroit. My dad managed, his dad owned — well, his dad ran an entire automobile company, His father ran American Motors. Yet what I don't understand is in spite of that, he was willing to let Detroit go bankrupt.
No, don't. I don't think
It’s not that he’s a bad guy. I’m sure he grew up loving cars as much as I did. But what I don't understand, what I just don’t think he understood—I just don’t think he understood hat saving the automobile worker, saving the industry, what saving the automobile industry it meant to all of America, not just autoworkers. I think he saw it the Bain way. Now, I mean this sincerely. I think he saw it in terms of Balance sheets. and Write-offs.
Folks, the Bain way may bring your firm the highest profits. But it’s not the way to lead
your our country from its highest office.
When things — when things — when things hung in the balance — When things hung in the balance, I mean, literally hung in the balance — the President understood
it this was about a lot more than the automobile industry. It This was about restoring America’s pride. He knew He understood — he understood in his gut what it would mean to leave 1 million people without hope or work if we he didn’t act. And He also knew — he also knew — he intuitively understood the message it would have sent to the rest of around the world if the United States of America gave up on the an industry that helped put America on the map. in the first place Conviction. Resolve. Barack Obama — that's what saved the automobile industry. Conviction, resolve, Barack Obama. Barack Obama. Look, you heard my friend John Kerry. This president — This President has shown that the same resolve, that same steady hand, in his role as Commander in Chief. Look — Which brings me to the next illustration I want to tell you about, the next second crisis he had to face.
In 2008, — 2008, before he was president — Barack Obama made a promise to the American people. He said, “ if I have bin — If we have
Osama bin Laden in our sights, we will — we will take him out. He went on to say — he went on to say, That has to be our biggest national security priority.” Look, Barack understood that the search for bin Laden was about a lot more than taking a monstrous leader off the battlefield. It was about so much more than that. It was about righting an unspeakable wrong, It was about — literally, it was about — it was about healing a nearly unbearable wound a nearly unbearable wound in America’s heart. And he also knew — He also knew the message we had to send to terrorists around the world—if you attack innocent Americans, we will follow you to the ends of the earth.
Most of all, the President had an unyielding faith in the capacity and the capability of our special forces--literally the finest warriors
the world has ever known. in the history of the world. The finest warriors in the history of the world.
So we sat. We sat originally — only five of us — We sat
for days in the Situation Room. beginning in the fall of the year before. We listened, we talked, we heard, and He listened to the risks and reservations about the raid. And he asked again the tough questions. He listened to the doubts that were expressed. But when Admiral McRaven looked him in the eye and said-- “Sir, we can get this done,” I sat next to him and looked at your husband and I knew at that moment Barack he had made his decision. And His response was decisive. He said do it. And justice was done.
Folks, folks, Folks,
But Governor Romney didn’t see things that way. When he was asked about bin Laden in 2007, here's what he said. he said, and I quote, “it’s not worth moving heaven and earth, and spending billions of dollars, just trying to catch one person.”
But he was wrong. He was wrong. Because If you understood that America’s heart had to be healed, you would have done exactly what the President did. And you
too would have move d heaven and earth to hunt him down bin Laden, and bring him to justice.
Look, four years ago — four years ago — the only thing missing at this convention this year is my mom. Four years ago,
when my mom was still with us, sitting up in the stadium in Denver, I quoted her, one of her favorite expressions. She used to say to all her children — she said, Joey, bravery resides in every heart, and the time will come, when it must be summoned.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m here to tell you what I think you already know But I watch it up close. bravery resides in the heart of Barack Obama. And time and time again, I witnessed him summon it. This man has courage in his soul, compassion in his heart, and
steel in his spine. a spine of steel. And because of all the actions he took, because of the calls he made--and because of the grit and determination of American workers--and the unparalled bravery of our special forces--we can now proudly say— what you've heard me say the last six months:
Osama Bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive. That's right. One man.
Folks, we know we have more work to do. We know we’re not there yet. But not a day has gone by, in the last four years when I haven’t been grateful as an American that Barack Obama is our President. Because he
has always had always has the courage to make the tough calls. decisions.
Speaking of tough decisions — Speaking of tough calls, last week we heard at the
ir Republican convention, — we heard our opponents — we heard them pledg ed that they too had the courage to make the tough calls. That's what they said. But folks, in case you didn’t notice, — and I say to my fellow Americans, in case you didn't notice, they didn’t have the courage to tell you what calls they' would make. They never mentioned any of that. They — Mrs. Robinson, you — you watched from home, I guess, from the White House. You heard them talk so much They talked about how much they cared so much about Medicare. How much they wanted to preserve it. That’s what they told you.
But let's look at what they didn’t tell you, What they didn't tell you is that
their plan the plan they have already put down on paper would immediately cut benefits to more than 30 million seniors already on Medicare. What they didn't tell you — What they didn’t tell you is what the plan they’re proposing would cause Medicare to go bankrupt by 2016. And what they really didn’t tell you is they — if you want to know — if you want to know — they’re not for preserving Medicare at all. They’re for a whole new plan. They’re for It's called Vouchercare. Look, folks. That’s not courage. That’s not even truthful.
In Tampa, they talk
ed with great urgency about the nation al's debt. and The need to act, to act now. But not once, not once, one single time, did they tell you that they ’ve rejected every plan put forward by us--by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission they referenced or by any other respected outside group s—to reduce our the national debt They are not for any of them. Why? Because they're not prepared to do anything about the debt if it contained even one dollar — I'm not exaggerating — even one dollar or—one cent—in new taxes for millionaires. Folks, That’s not courage. And that’s not fair. Let’s just say it straight: Look — look. In a sense, this can be reduced to a single notion. The two men seeking to lead this country over the next four years, as I said at the outset, have fundamentally different visions, and a completely different value set.
Governor Romney believes
that in the in this global economy, it doesn’t much matter matter much where American companies invest and put their money or where they create jobs. As a matter of fact, in his budget proposal, in his he has a new tax proposal he calls for a new tax. It's called -- the a territorial tax -- that experts say which the experts have looked at, and they acknowledge it will create 800,000 jobs, all of them overseas. all of them. I found it fascinating And what I've found — what I found fascinating, the most fascinating thing I found last week--was when Governor Romney said, that as President, he’d take a jobs tour. Well with all his support for outsourcing, it’s going to have to be a foreign trip. It will. Look, President Obama knows that creating jobs in America--keeping jobs in America-- and bringing jobs back to America--is what being President isthe president's job was all about. That’s the President's job. That's what presidents do, or at least supposed to do.
Folks, Governor Romney believes
that it’s okay to raise taxes on the middle classes by $2,000 in order to pay for over a another — literally another trillion dollars in tax cut s for the very wealthy. President Obama knows that there is nothing decent or fair about asking more of those with less--and less--of those with more. people with more to do less and with less to do more.
Governor Romney believes, he believes that kids-
the kids we call kids like our DREAMers—those immigrant children who were brought to America's shores at a very young age, through no fault of their own—he thinks they’re a drag on the American economy.
President Obama believes that even though th
eose DREAMERs—these kids—didn’t choose to come to Americahere-they’ve chosen to do right by America and it's time for us to we should do right by them.
Governor Romney — Governor Romney — Governor Romney — Governor Romney looks at the notion of equal pay for equal work in terms of a company’s bottom line. President Obama, he knows that making sure our daughters
are paid the same get the same pay for the same jobs as our son s for the same job must be is every father’s bottom line.
Look, I kind of expected all that from him. But
I must tell you--one thing truly perplexed me at their convention. The thing that perplexed me the most at their convention was this idea of a they kept talking about about the culture of dependency. They seem to think you create a culture of dependency when you provide a bright, young, qualified child kid from a working-class family a loan to get to college, or when you provide a job training program in a new industry, for a dad who lost his job, because it was outsourced.
Folks, that’s not how we look at it.
Americans have never looked at it that way. That's not how America's ever looked at it. These men and women aren’t looking for a handout. What he doesn't understand is all these men and women are looking for is a chance, They’re just looking for just a chance to acquire the tools and the skills to be able to provide for their families so they can once again hold their heads high and lead independent lives with dignity. That's all they're looking for.
Look — and it literally amazes me they don't understand that. You know, I told you at the outset the choice is stark. Two different visions. Two different value sets.
AndBut at its core, the difference is, able to reduced (sic) to be a fundamental difference. You see, you, we have incredible faith in the decency, and the hard work of the American people. And we know what has made this country great-- itsit's the American people.
As I mentioned at the outset
folks--four years ago, Americans we were hit hard. You saw your retirement accounts draine d, the equity in your homes vanish, and your jobs lost or on the line. But what did you do as Americans? But you did what Americans haveyou've always done. You didn’t lose faith. You fought back. You didn’t give up. You got up. You’re the ones bringing America back the American people, you're the ones.. You’re the reason why we’re still better positioned-- than any country in the world--to lead the 21st century. You never quit on America. And you deserve a President who will never quit on you. And that our Republican opponents are just dead wrong about: America is NOT in decline. America is not in decline.
I’ve got news for Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan,
it has never, never, ever, Gentlemen, never ever — it never makes sense, it's never been a good bet to bet against the American people. Never!
My fellow Americans, America is coming back and we’re not going back! And we have no intention of downsizing the American Dream. Never. Never a good bet.
Ladies and gentlemen, in a moment — In a moment
you’re we're going to hear from a man, whose whole life is a testament to the power of that dream. And whose Presidency is the best hope to secure that dream, for our children. For you see — you see, we see a future — we really honest to God do —
We see a future where everyone rich
orand poor does their part and has a part.
A future where we depend more on clean energy from home and less on oil from abroad.
A future where we’re #1 in the world again in college graduation.
A future where we promote the private sector, not the privileged sector.
— and a future — And a future where women once again control their own choices
, health, and destiny their destiny and their own health care.
And ladies and gentlemen, Barack and I see a future — it's in our DNA — where no one—no one—is forced to live in the shadows of intolerance.
Folks, we see a future where American — where America leads not only by the power of our — the example of our power, but by the power of our example. Where we bring our troops home from Afghanistan, just as we
brought them home proudly did from Iraq. And — a future — a future where we fulfill the only truly sacred obligation we have as a nation--The only truly sacred obligation we have is to equip prepare those we send to war and care for them when they come home from war. Where we acknowledge And tonight — and tonight — tonight I want to acknowledge — I want to acknowledge, as we should every night, the incredible debt we owe to the families of th eose 6,473 fallen angels and the 49,746 wounded. Thousands, critically wounded thousands who will need our help for the rest of their lives.
Folks, we never — We must never, ever forget their sacrifice and always keep them in our care and our prayers.
My fellow Americans, we now — we now — and we now find ourselves at the hinge of history. And the direction we turn is not figuratively, is literally in your hands. It has been
an a truly great honor to serve you, and to serve with a President Barack who has always stood up for with you for the past four years. As I’ve said, I’ve seen him tested. I know his strength, his command, his faith.
And I also know, the incredible confidence he has in all of you. I know this man. Yes, the work of recovery is not yet — not yet complete, but we are on our way.
The journey of hope is not yet finished, but we are on our way. And The cause of change is not fully accomplished, but we are on our way. So I say to you tonight, with absolute confidence,
America’s best days are ahead
of us, and, yes, we are on our way.
And in light — In the light of that horizon, for the values that define us, for the ideas that inspire us, there is only one choice.
The choice is to move forward, boldly forward. And Finish the job
we started and re-elect President Barack Obama.
God bless you and may God protect our troops. God bless you. Thank you. Thank you.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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