Writers in The West Wing are close to witnessing the biggest decisions taken to run the country. And this position of speechwriting can be rewarding as it can place the writer in the pages of history too. One such White House speechwriter, Alan Stone, who worked in President Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign says that the experience is pretty similar to the television show, The West Wing.
Currently, he is a senior consultant at Northeastern University and he shared his experience on the University’s Facebook page. He said that he was a speechwriter for the U.S. Senator Tom Harkin and that he was recommended for Clinton’s team for the position of a senior writer.
When asked what speechwriting on a campaign is like, he says that there is a lot of content that gets repeated including core messages and themes. For the locale issues, there is a slight change in the setup. However, the writers always try hard to include local colour and humour.
The difference between the high art and the low art is that the former is politically significant and is delivered to a critical audience. Stone gives a few examples including Bill Clinton’s speech at the University of Notre Dame. Topics like family values, abortion, and catholic social missions are worked out in such speeches.
He also mentions the change that social media has brought in the process of campaigning. Therefore, if a campaign has to work, it has to be promoted on these social platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, etc.
In spite of the amazing experience one has, the work is difficult as the deadlines are never changed but the chaos continues. Writers need to work hard as there are topics changed and content needs to be created in big volumes. Additionally, writers also need to know the topics one needs to deal with. Stone in his approach always tried to be positive in his speeches and found anecdotes to make them interesting. This was his formula of speechwriting in his White House career.