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Generation Cuomos

podiumIf his father’s speaking style was "roses," then Andrew Cuomo‘s is "nuts and bolts," reports Erica Orden in The Wall Street Journal (1/8/14). Depending on your political persuasion, he might be more nuts than bolts. However, as Andrew explains, the difference is between speeches that are about politics and those that are about policy. "I’m doing government speeches," he says. The objective is "to strike a nonpartisan tone – a departure from his father’s often heated rhetoric and evocative imagery." (video) The reason, he says, is that the rhetorical flourishes are "very costly from a governmental point of view."

Andrew writes his own speeches, first "seeking ideas and advice from policy advisers and other staffers to create an outline" and then writing "a draft longhand. He revises it as many as 10 times … before winnowing it down to a handful of ‘trigger’ words or phrases that he transfers to a notecard." He neither practices his speeches nor uses a teleprompter. "You don’t need more than four, five, six words or phrases," he says, explaining that "he uses the notes ‘like an accordion’ to prompt him to expand on specific topics."

As Andrew describes it, the flow might go something like this: "Let me explain to you why this budget is a good budget. We need a tax cut. Let me communicate to you why this is the appropriate tax cut. Let me explain to you property taxes as opposed to personal-income taxes." He says this is painful because he’s more comfortable with emotion – so, he always tries to connect with his audience on some emotional level first. (video) After a speech, he checks with friends, family and others in the audience to find out "why there was a murmur in the room or why attendees failed to stand or clap."