Barack Obama's New Hampshire "Yes We Can" speech

This study guide will help you analyze Barack Obama’s New Hampshire Primary Speech. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on summary, topic, speaker, audience, language, circumstances, and intention.

Presentation of the speech

Title: “New Hampshire Primary Speech”
Speaker: Barack Obama
Where: New Hampshire
When: 8th of January, 2008 during the primary elections in the 2008 US presidential campaign, after Obama lost the elections in New Hampshire.

Barack Obama (b. 1961) is a politician who served as the 44th President of the United States between 2009 and 2017. The “New Hampshire Primary Speech” was delivered during his first presidential campaign in the primary elections for becoming the nominee of the Democratic Party for the US Presidency.

You can watch the speech here.


Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide:


Repetition is one of the most frequently used rhetorical devices in this speech. Its purpose is to make ideas more memorable, as well as to give structure and momentum to Obama’s arguments.

For example, the repetition of the phrase “there is something happening” creates suspense and builds up to the idea that people in the US want the change that Obama embodies and also that the people are part of that change.

A similar emphasis is constructed when Obama talks about the war in Iraq using repetition: “…we will end this war in Iraq and bring our troops home. (APPLAUSE) We will end this war in Iraq. We will bring our troops home”. The purpose of this repetition is to reassure the audience that the speaker is determined to end the war and that it is a priority for him.

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Barack Obama's New Hampshire "Yes We Can" speech

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