Many of us who’ve been watching the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte have heard that President Bill Clinton went off script (although not to the degree that Clint Eastwood did in Tampa at the Republican gathering).

An unparalleled orator and skilled politician, Clinton enhanced his address with personal touches, making it more powerful, more emotional and – in the end – more effective, in my opinion.

Lucky for speakers and speechwriters, the good people at The Atlantic have compared Clinton’s prepared remarks with his delivered words.

Look at what Clinton did. He added repetition (“I want…”), he made verb phrases stronger (“we focus on” vs. “we are focused on”), and he added colourful phrases and stories (George Washington’s wooden teeth…).

He also inserted folksier Clintonesque elements reminiscent of his Arkansas roots: the use of “now” at the start of sentences, changing “people” to “folks,” and one of my Southern favourites, “I’m fixing to…”.

Now, I’m fixin’ to review The Atlantic article again today, and I hope you folks do too.

UPDATE: The New Yorker  ran this piece on how President Clinton riiffs off the Teleprompter. Amazing.



  1. From the ones I heard, in “best speech” order, I’d say: President Clinton, Mayor Castro, President Obama, Michelle Obama (I demoted her because of her manufactured stammer), Joe Biden (he gets bonus points for politicking) and — dead last — Eastwood. (I didn’t listen to Romney or Ryan; I read the reports on their speeches the next day.)


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