Date of Award

May 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication and Rhetorical Studies


Amos Kiewe


Hillary Clinton, public image, rhetorical appeal, rhetorics, trust, trustworthy

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences



This study examines Hillary Clinton’s public discourse at various points in her

career, analyzing which rhetorical strategies she uses to build and maintain trust between herself and the American public. To do so, this study examines five moments in Clinton’s career in which she actively employs rhetoric that affects the public’s perception of Clinton as a trustworthy or untrustworthy figure. The five case studies analyzed in this study are Bill and Hillary Clinton’s 1992 interview on 60 Minutes, following accusations of Bill’s extramarital affair with Gennifer Flowers; Hillary Clinton’s tears in New Hampshire on the 2008 presidential campaign trail; Hillary’s “3am Phone Call” ad, released during the 2008 primary campaign; Hillary’s social media efforts to brand herself as a grandmother during the 2016 presidential campaign; and Hillary’s infamous email scandal that unfolded during the 2016 presidential campaign. With the theoretical foundation of Walter Fisher’s narrative theory, Michael McGee’s ideograph, Kenneth Burke’s identification theory, and Shawn Parry-Giles’ work in gender authenticity, this study concludes with a discussion of Clinton’s most frequently and successfully- deployed rhetorical strategies for building trust with the American people.


Open Access