Research Article

Trump's Strategies in the First Presidential Debate: A Critical Discourse Analysis


  • Quang Nhat Nguyen Lecturer of English and Head of Academics of The IELTS Workshop, Ho Chi Minh City University of Education, Vietnam
  • Murad Hassan Mohammed Sawalmeh Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Translation Studies, Dhofar University, Oman


The young and vibrant 243-year-old U.S. has long claimed its status as a world power. As stated by the U.S.'s Congressional Research Service (2019), the U.S. shoulders the responsibility of defending and promoting freedom, democracy, and universal values, which means that America, being an active internationalist global leader, a superpower, and a world policeman, has been maintaining the power of manipulating partially, if not most, the whole world. This attention gains more significance as Donald Trump aims to take center stage once more in the presidential campaign in 2020. The way Americans choose their presidents will affect the world situation in many respects. While it is noticeable that there is an anti-intellectual trend in presidential discourse (Lim, 2008), Trump's presidential linguistic style is highly distinctive in terms of its simplicity, anti-elitism, and collectivism (Oliver & Rahn, 2016). Realizing the importance of Donald Trump's linguistic presidential style, the attention that it drew, and the likelihood that Trump may reuse his approach in the 2020 presidential campaign, this study focuses on the first presidential debate's strategies of Donald Trump in 2016. The analysis of the debate's strategies is influenced by the works of Fairclough (1993), Halliday (1971) and Goffman (1967). The results of the study revealed that Trump combined four strategies of presidential debates, including (1) self-acclamation, (2) describing opposing candidates through the verbal attack, (3) self-rectification or image-enhancement through the defense against opposing candidates' blaming argument, and (4) extra-vocalization. Trump's presidential speech is a source of valuable knowledge that makes use of both typical candidates' traditional strategies with a more business-oriented approach. It is hoped that this study might be a valuable foundation on which researchers can rely to consider Trump's changes in linguistic style when he comes to the upcoming presidential campaigns in 2020.

Article information


International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation

Volume (Issue)

3 (5)





How to Cite

Nguyen, Q. N. ., & Sawalmeh, M. H. M. . (2020). Trump’s Strategies in the First Presidential Debate: A Critical Discourse Analysis. International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation, 3(5), 68–77.



Critical Discourse Analysis, Donald Trump, Presidential Debate, Political Discourse Analysis, Election