Communication studies expert can comment on high-stakes presidential debate

LAWRENCE — “Never has so much been on the line so early in a presidential campaign as with this Thursday’s debate.”

That’s the opinion of Robert Rowland, one of the nation’s leading experts on presidential rhetoric.

Robin Rowland
Robin Rowland

A University of Kansas professor of communication studies and former national champion college debater himself, Rowland is available to speak with journalists before the June 27 presidential debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump to comment upon the stakes, the rules and the candidates’ likely approaches, or immediately after the debate to analyze their performances.

Rowland is the author of the 2021 book “The Rhetoric of Donald Trump: Nationalist Populism and American Democracy” (University of Kansas Press).

The KU researcher has specialized in the rhetorical legacies of presidents, calling Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama “once in a generation” communicators who raised the sights of their fellow citizens to lofty national ideals. Trump, conversely, he has called “a master at creating fear and hatred of others.”

Rowland also is the author of “Reagan at Westminster: Foreshadowing the End of the Cold War” (2010, Texas A&M University Press).

“Presidential debates are often turning points in campaigns,” Rowland said. “In 1960, 1980 and 2008, Kennedy, Reagan and Obama reassured the nation with their steady debate performances and went on to win the election. Gaffes in debate hurt Ford in 1976, George H.W. Bush in 1992 and Al Gore in 2000. 

“The first presidential debate in 2024 promises to be especially important with both candidates needing to reassure large segments of the electorate about their potential to lead the nation. Biden needs to reassure the public about his health and his intellectual vigor. Trump needs to reassure the public that he has the stable temperament to be an effective president.”

Tue, 06/25/2024


Rick Hellman

Media Contacts

Rick Hellman

KU News Service