Political speechwriter Lindsay Hayes shares experience at Smith College

By Alvin Buyinza

Collegian file photo

Speechwriter Lindsay Hayes, the former director of speechwriting for 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, held a talk on her experience as a speech writer Wednesday evening at Smith College.

Hayes began working with the former GOP nominee on his speeches in late 2011, and was soon appointed Romney’s director of speechwriting.

Hayes began Wednesday night by discussing her process as a speech writer, mentioning how she likes to sit down and talk with her subject before writing her speech.

“The thing that I’m looking for when I sit down with a [client] is what can I get from you or learn about you or see from you that I can’t get from doing research independently,” Hayes said.

Hayes explained that her goal is to get the public to see the best genuine version of the candidate, and hopes that this principal shines through in her writing.

“I think one of the biggest tragedies is when afterwards someone will lose and you’ll hear people say, ‘I just don’t feel like we ever saw who the real person was,” Hayes said.

Hayes refers to this as the struggle to break through and have the constituents see a real person, rather than a politician.

When it comes to President Donald Trump’s speeches, Hayes referred to them as having a certain disconnect, something that she aims to eliminate when writing for her employers.

“I wonder if part of the disconnect there is that he is not able to sit down and talk with a writer,” she said.

Hayes also said Trump cannot govern the way he talks when he is giving his speeches.

“Those speeches are not meant to unify, those speeches are not meant to persuade and they are not meant to bring people together,” she said.

When asked about the plagiarism accusations First lady Melania Trump faced over her speech at the Republican National Convention, she believed that Trump’s speech writer had confused past speeches with her own draft.

“What I would do, I would keep my research document and my draft separate to prevent any confusion,” Hayes said.

“If I wanted to agree with someone 100 percent of the time, I would run for office,” Hayes said when asked if she had to compromise any of her beliefs for her speech writing.

Hayes said that she has a 90 percent rule, referring to the fact that she needs to agree with her subject on 90 percent of things in order to work for them. However, the remaining 10 percent, Hayes said, cannot be a deal breaker, like Trump’s attempted executive orders barring immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.

“Anyone who says the travel ban is constitutional, I cannot write a speech for,” Hayes said.

Hayes also added that she previously turned down speeches for the National Rifle Association due to her deep commitment towards animal rights.

Toward the end of the night, Hayes praised the Smith College Bipartisan Coalition, the organization that hosted the event, for upholding political conversation on both ends of the political spectrum.

“If you go and you talk to people you will find decent people who you may disagree with, but you may also be surprised to find these wide areas of agreement and Washington needs us to do that work,” Hayes said.

Alvin Buyinza can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @abuyinza_news.