"First" Matters: A Qualitative Examination of a Strategy for Controlling the Agenda when Answering Questions in the 2016 US Republican Primary Election Debates
In the context of the 2016 U.S. Republican primary election debates, the qualitative method of Conversation Analysis is used to describe a discourse/rhetorical strategy candidates use to control the agenda when answering questions. By prefacing answers with First of all, First, or First off, candidates claim that the immediately next talk will constitute something other than a relevant response to the question, but that one will be forthcoming after first matters are resolved. Findings contribute to agenda setting generally, and specifically to candidates’ strategies for controlling the agenda by variously evading questions’ agendas in order to make space for other political actions (e.g., policy support, acclaim, attack, rebuttal), and doing so in a way that manages public accountability associated with evasion.
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Montiegel, K., & Robinson, J. D. (2019). “First” matters: A qualitative examination of a strategy for controlling the agenda when answering questions in the 2016 U.S. republican primary election debates. Communication Monographs, 86(1), 23–45. https://doi.org/10.1080/03637751.2018.1498978