Convention Speeches: What to Expect

The National Conventions are fast approaching, and with them comes growing anticipation for their crowning moments — the presidential candidates nomination acceptance speeches.
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Today, with the nominees known months beforehand and the official business of the conventions largely ceremonial, the speeches are far and away the most popular event of the four days. With millions across the country planning to tune in this year -- for Sen. Barack Obama and the Democrats on Aug. 28 and Sen. John McCain and the GOP on Sept. 4 -- it can be hard to believe that up to the turn of the 20th century, acceptances speeches were often not made at the conventions at all. After being notified of his nomination, a candidate would deliver an acceptance in the form of an address or letter, as Herbert Hoover did unusually briefly in 1932.

Whatever their format, nomination acceptances from the past century have not lost their unshakeable notes of confidence, however misplaced. For while certain speeches stand out as key moments we can point to, solid evidence of auspicious beginning, others, despite optimistic deliveries, remind us only of what was not to be.

Here are some selected recent examples:

John Kerry -- 2004:

Ronald Reagan -- 1980

Al Gore -- 2000:

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