This article uses the vocabulary provided by scholarship on gaffes, narrative paradigm, and representative anecdote to suggest that both the Obama and Romney campaigns employed Mitt Romney’s leaked “47%” comment as a Burkean representative anecdote in the 2012 election. The elevation of the leaked comment was possible because the gaffe held narrative fidelity for the stories proposed by both campaigns, but narrative coherence and transcendent values became contentious aspects of the respective narratives. Critically analyzing divergent meanings assigned to the leaked comment opens space to discuss the role gaffes play in campaign narratives, complicates contemporary understanding of gaffes and their integration into broader political campaigns, and illuminates the impact of particular rhetorical constructions on campaigns and public policy.
Original Publication Information
Coker, C.R. "Romney, Obama, and the 47%: Narrative and Representative Anecdotes in the 2012 Presidential Campaign." 2017. Argumentation & Advocacy 53(4): 327-343.
Coker, Calvin, "Romney, Obama, and the 47%: Gaffes and Representative Anecdotes in the 2012 Presidential Campaign" (2017). Faculty Scholarship. 771.