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This essay examines presidential candidate Bill Clinton's rhetoric regarding America's role in the world during the 1992 presidential campaign. Despite the fact that foreign policy was George H.W. Bush's strength during the campaign, candidate Clinton was able to develop a coherent vision for America's role in the world that he carried into his presidency. I argue he did so by fusing together the American exceptionalist missions of exemplar and intervention. In doing so, Clinton altered a tension embedded in debates over U.S. foreign policy rhetoric. To further differentiate his candidacy from President Bush, Clinton encased this discourse within a secular jeremiad that offered Clinton the opportunity to attack President Bush on the one hand, while articulating his own vision for American domestic and international affairs.


Originally published in Speaker and Gavel.

Original Citation

Edwards, J. (2015). Foreign Policy Rhetoric in the 1992 Presidential Campaign: Bill Clinton’s Exceptionalist Jeremiad. Speaker & Gavel 52(2), 32-53.