- Pre-Primary Period
« Candidate Announcements in
Recent Election Cycles
Candidate Announcements in Recent Election Cycles
As noted in the discussion on the main page, individuals can take many steps en route to becoming candidates and announcing their candidacies; indeed sometimes there is a tendency to draw the announcement out in an attempt to gain maximum attention. For example during an appearance on a talk show or late night program an individual may drop the news that he or she plans to establish an exploratory committee, then some days or weeks later get a bit more news for actually establishing an exploratory committee, and then still later on formally announce that he or she is a full-fledged candidate. Filing of paperwork can also generate news. Before making a formal announcement speech, a candidate or exploratory candidate may have been campaigning for months. It can sometimes be difficult to determine when the individual actually becomes a fully engaged candidate. The formal announcement speech can serve as an important symbolic event for a candidacy. The setting, staging, and wording of the speech give a sense of who the candidate is. The downside, one operative observed, is that the attention only lasts for one news cycle. Thus in recent campaigns there have been a number of candidates who have chosen to skip the grand-scale formal announcement speech and merely announce on a broadcast program or via video. The tables below attempt to show the timing of formal candidate announcements.
Certainly the content and delivery of the speech are critical, but there are many other factors that can make for a memorable launch. An energetic, well-orchestrated announcement speech can set a positive tone, for a campaign while glitches can lead to unfavorable coverage. In addition to the burst of media coverage surrounding an announcement, imagery from the event may appear in ads and communications used throughout the campaign.
Geographic Location and Venue
Campaigns have adopted three main approaches to chosing a geographic location. First, making an announcement in one of the early states (IA, NH, SC) is a common approach, particularly if one of those states is seen as must win. Second, returning to one's home state is another frequent approach. This is a good way to highlight the candidate's upbringing and roots; for example reporters can talk to neighbors and people who know the candidate when he or she was growing up. Third, the campaign may choose a more broadly symbolic location. For example Jon Huntsman in 2011 spoke with the Statue of Liberty in the background, John Edwards in 2007 chose the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, and John Kerry in 2003 spoke with aircraft carrier U.S.S. Yorktown in the background (plus it was in South Carolina).
Venues range widely. Some are chosen with optics in mind, that is to get the Statue of Liberty or a state capitol dome or an aircraft carrier in the background. Some are more personal; for example, candidates have announced in the schools that they attended. Finally, there are instances where the venue seems less of a priority or even an afterthought; the candidate speaks in a more generic location, even a hotel, that is convenient. If a candidate makes the announcement in the winter, weather can be a factor in determining the venue.
Content and Delivery
Most often there will be a few introductions. An elected official or two may make initial remarks. Typically the candidate's wife will speak for a few minutes to introduce him; in the case of women candidates there is less of a track record, but the candidate's husband could do the introduction. The announcement speech may be the most attention a candidate gets for a while so it behooves him or her to think through what he or she wants to say and how to say it. Broadly, the objective is to highlight aspects of his or her experience and outline his or her vision for the country. There are a lot of interesting things to watch.1 How well does the candidate deliver the speech? Are there references to a humble upbringing? Attacks on the current administration? Does the speech delve into foreign policy?
At the most basic level the campaign must take care of media logistics; reporters need their wifi, photographers their shots, broadcast journalists their sound, and the traveling press transportation, food and accomodations. Sometimes a campaign will organize a special related event for the media; for example in 2007 the Vilsack campaign held a potluck supper the night before his announcement, and in June 1999 in New Hampshire the Bush campaign held a lobster bake. After the event, the campaign can see how it played starting with the initial tweets, to the evening broadcasts, to the newpapers the next day. Other news of the day may be a factor; for example in 1995 Sen. Richard Lugar had the misfortune of announcing on the same day as the Oklahoma City bombing. Finally, the announcement speech is usually not an isolated event. A candidate will often go on a full announcement tour, which can boost the coverage in the early states, and candidates also often make an intense round of media appearances in conjunction with their announcements (>).
1. The Boston Globe did an interesting analysis of the complexity of language used by the candidates in their announcement speeches. Using the Flesch-Kincaid readability tests, the Globe found that Donald Trump used the simplest language, scoring at a fourth grade level, while at the other end of the spectrum, at a tenth grade level, were former Gov. Jim Gilmore followed by former Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Bernie Sanders. See :Matt Viser. "For presidential hopefuls, simpler language resonates." The Boston Globe, Oct. 20, 2015.
30, 2015 - Former Gov. Jim Gilmore
(R-VA) annouces via video.
21, 2015 - Gov. John Kasich
(R-OH) in the Ohio
Union at The Ohio State University in Columbus, OH.
13, 2015 - Gov. Scott Walker
(R-WI) at Waukesha
County Expo Center in Waukesha, WI.
- July 2, 2015 - Former Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) announces by email.
2015 - Gov. Chris Christie
(R-NJ) at Livingston High School in Livingston, NJ.
- June 24, 2015 - Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) at Pontchartrain Center in Kenner, LA.
- Jun. 23, 2015 - Dr. Jill Stein (G-MA) at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
- Jun. 16, 2015 - Donald Trump (R-NY) at Trump Tower in New York, NY.
- Jun. 15, 2015 - Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) at the Theodore R. Gibson Health Center at the Miami Dade College Kendall campus in Miami, FL.
- Jun. 13, 2015 - Former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton official campaign launch at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park in New York, NY.
- Jun. 4, 2015 - Former Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) at Addison Airport in Addison, TX.
- Jun. 3, 2015 - Former Gov. Lincoln Chafee (D-RI) at George Mason University in Arlington, VA.
- Jun. 1,
2015 - Sen. Lindsey Graham
(R-SC) on Main Street in Central, SC.
- May 30, 2015 -
Former Gov. Martin O'Malley
(D-MD) at Federal Hill Park in Baltimore, MD.
- iMay 28, 2015 - Former Gov.
George Pataki (R-NY)
at Exeter Town Hall in Exeter, NH.
- May 27, 2015 - Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) at Penn United Technologies in Cabot, PA.
- May 26, 2015 - Sen.
Bernie Sanders (I-VT)' formal
announcement at Waterfront Park in Burlington, VT.
5, 2015 - Former Gov. Mike Huckabee
(R-AR)* FL at Hempstead Hall in Hope, AR.
- May 4,
2015 - Dr. Ben Carson
(R-FL) at Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts in
- May 4, 2015
- Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina
(R-VA) announces by video and on social media.
30, 2015 - Sen. Bernie Sanders
(I-VT) announces by email statement.
- Apr. 13,
2015 - Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
12, 2015 - Former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton announces by video and on
- Apr. 9,
2015 - Former Gov. Lincoln Chafee
(D-RI) announces exploratory committee.
- Apr. 7, 2015
- Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, KY.
- Mar. 23,
2015 - Sen. Ted Cruz
(R-TX) at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA.
- Mar. 18,
2015 - Donald Trump (R-NY)
announces exploratory committee.
- Mar. 2, 2015 - Dr. Ben Carson (R-FL) announced exploratory committee via March 3 web video.
29, 2015 - Sen. Lindsey Graham
(R-SC) announces testing the waters committee.
- Nov. 19, 2014
Former Sen. Jim Webb (R-VA)
announced exploratory committee via web video.
- April 25 - Former Gov. Gary Johnson (R-NM) announced at the State Capitol in Concord, NH, and included extreme skiing on Mount Washington as part of his announcement trip.
- May 11 - Former Speaker Newt
had considered announcing at Philadelphia's Independence Hall, but
ultimately announced on May 11 via Twitter and Facebook and a video; a couple of days later on May
13 he gave what
amounted to an announcement speech at the
Georgia Republican Party convention in Macon, GA.
- May 13 - Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) announced at Exeter Town
Hall in Exeter, NH.
- May 21 - Herman Cain drew a
big crowd at his announcement rally at
Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, GA.
- May 23 - Former
Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN)
the State of Iowa Historical Building in Des Moines, IA, with the
Capitol building in the background.
- June 2 - Former Gov.
Mitt Romney (R-MA) launched
his candidacy at the Bittersweet Farm in Stratham County, NH.
- June 6 - Former Sen. Rick Santorum
(R-PA) announced in his home state of Pennsylvania, speaking from the
steps of the Somerset County Courthouse, in Somerset, PA; his grandfather
settled in Somerset after emigrating from Italy.
- June 21 - Former Gov. Jon Huntsman
from Liberty State Park, NJ
with the Statue of Liberty in the
- June 27 - Rep. Michele Bachmann
announcements in both IA and NH; after making an initial announcement
during the June 13 New
Hampshire debate, she formally announced a couple of weeks later in
Waterloo, IA, the city where
she was born.
- July 2 - Rep. Thaddeus McCotter
(R-MI) kicked off his short-lived effort at WAAM Freedom Fest at
Whitmore Lake, MI in his
- July 21 - Former Gov. Buddy Roemer
(R-LA) announced at Hanover Inn at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH.
- Aug. 13 - Gov. Rick Perry
(R-TX) announced at RedState Gathering 2011 at the Francis Marion Hotel
in Charleston, SC.
2006 - Former Sen. Mike Gravel
(D) announced at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. +
2006 - Gov. Tom Vilsack
(D-IA) announced in Mount
Pleasant, IA, his hometown
since 1975; he was elected mayor
in 1987 and served for five years and later served in the State
2006 - Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
2006 - Former Sen. John Edwards
(D-NC) announced in front of a home in the
Ninth Ward of New Orleans, LA.
- Jan. 11 - Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) announced on "Imus in the Morning."
20 - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) announced exploratory via web
20 - Sen. Sam Brownback
(R-KS) announced in his home state at
Heritage Hall in Wichita, KS.
25 - Rep. Duncan Hunter
(R-CA) announced at the Spartanburg Marriott at Renaissance Park in
Spartanburg, SC. +
28 - Former Gov. Mike Huckabee
(R-AR) announced exploratory on NBC's "Meet the Press."
31 - Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) announced via web video.
- Feb. 7 - Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani
(R) filed his statement of candidacy with the FEC and did an interview
Sean Hannity on FOX News "Hannity and Colmes." during which he spoke
about making a formal announcement, but that never did happen.
10 - Sen. Barack Obama
(D-IL) announced at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, IL. +
13 - Former Gov. Mitt Romney
(R-MA) announced at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI. +
- Mar. 12 - Rep. Ron
Paul (R-TX) announced on C-SPAN's
2 - Rep. Tom Tancredo
(R-CO) announced on WHO Radio's
"Mickelson in the Morning."
4 - Former Gov. Tommy Thompson
(R-WI) announced at the 7 Flags Event Center in Clive, IA. +
25 - Sen. John McCain
(R-AZ) announced at Prescott Park in Portsmouth, NH. +
26 - Former Gov. Jim Gilmore
(R-VA) announced at the Republican Party of Iowa headquarters in Des
21 - Gov. Bill Richardson
(D-NM) announced at Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. CA. +
- Sept. 14 - Former
Alan Keyes announced on "Janet
21 - Former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN) announced in a webcast.
- Jan. 13
- Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT)
announced at Stamford High School in Stamford, CT; he graduated from there class of
- Feb. 19
Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-MO)
announced at Mason Elementary School in St. Louis, MO; he attended the school.
- May 6 - Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) announced in Miami Lakes, FL; his family developed the town.
- June 23
Former Gov. Howard Dean (D-VT)
announced at the Church Street Marketplace in downtown Burlington, VT.
- Sept. 2
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)
announced at Patriots Point in Charleston, SC.
- Sept. 16
Sen. John Edwards (D-NC)
announced outside of the old Milliken Mill (it closed in 1990) in
Robbins, NC; he worked there
as a teenager.
- Sept. 17
Gen. Wesley K. Clark (Ret.)
announced outside of the James Penick Boys and Girls Club in Little
Rock, AR; he was a member of
the Club as a youth.
- Sept. 22
Amb. Carol Moseley Braun
announced at Howard University in Washington, DC.
- Oct. 13
Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
his hometown, in the City Council Chamber at Cleveland
City Hall in Cleveland, OH.
*Rev. Al Sharpton announced
his intention to form an exploratory committee at the National Press
Club in Washington, DC in Aug. 2001 and filed
papers at the FEC establishing the committee on Jan. 21, 2003.
2015: The Field Takes Shape
< Nov. 19 - Jim Webb exploratory