Chapter 9. Governors debating

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An analysis of 21 women campaigning for the office of governor in 10 different states over a twenty-four year period in the US shows how they position themselves as ready for executive leadership. In interactive televised debates, they construct identities designed as convincing, knowledgeable and authoritative and defend them from challenges. Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike claim leadership skills, experience, toughness, and situate these claims to be responsive to opponents’ identities, potential double binds and voter issues. Employing a wide range of discourse identities and linguistic strategies appropriate to the situated context, these candidates, experts in their field, lead us to understand the many different ways they compete to gain the edge in the campaign context.


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