Study Group:

John McConnell

Spring 2023 Parikh Family Fellow, Center for the Political Future

John P. McConnell served more than ten years on the White House staff, in two administrations. As a senior speechwriter for President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, he was part of the three-person team responsible for all of the 43rd President’s major addresses, including the speech to the Joint Session of Congress after September 11, 2001, and five State of the Union Messages.

John served through the entire Bush-Cheney administration, holding the unique position of both Deputy Assistant to the President and Assistant to the Vice President. In his career he has also worked as a speechwriter for Vice President Dan Quayle and 1996 presidential nominee Bob Dole. He was a resident fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics in the John F. Kennedy School of Government and has taught speechwriting at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management.

A resident of Washington, D.C., John grew up in Bayfield, Wisconsin and is a graduate of Carleton College and Yale Law School. He is a trustee of Wayland Academy and chairs the selection committee for the annual Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency.

Study Group: Speechwriting for a Politician

Through “Speechwriting for a Politician,” students will get an inside look at political speechwriting. Read and watch some of the classics, and see what can be learned from unsuccessful speeches. Our sessions will be organized according to speeches of different kinds (stump, convention, victory/concession, commencement, etc.). Through in-class exercises and discussions, we’ll cover topics such as: the nuts-and-bolts of speechwriting; what works and why; common mistakes and how to avoid them; the importance of knowing your audience; the power of the sound bite; and how to be persuasive in tough circumstances.

Not everyone can become a great speechwriter, but this study group will show students that speechwriting is a tool that can be sharpened by watching, listening, reading, doing, and caring.

Wednesdays, 4 - 6 p.m. PT, SOS B15
Start Date: January 25, 2023
End Date: April 5, 2023
Apply for the study group with John McConnell