Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Communication Studies 60:4 (September–October 2009), pp. 376–391.

doi: 10.1080/10510970903109979


Copyright © 2009 Central States Communication Association; published by Routledge/Taylor and Francis. Used by permission.


Bill Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro were accused of “playing the race card” during the 2008 contest for the Democratic presidential nomination. This essay explores the different forms race cards may assume and the dangers each poses to the public dialogue. Moving away from the traditional focus on persuasive effects, the Clinton and Ferraro utterances are analyzed as argumentative discourses. Then, critical standards are promulgated for evaluating their reasonableness.