Here come the word clouds: Obama’s and Romney’s debate language, visually

David Martosko Executive Editor
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Viewers of Tuesday night’s presidential debate heard a whopping 17,813 words, and only 570 of them were in the form of a question. The rest came from two candidates and a journalist whose word choices paint an interesting picture. Literally.

These “word clouds,” courtesy of Wordle.net, show the relative frequency of the 200 words most often uttered by President Barack Obama, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and CNN’s Candy Crowley, who moderated Tuesday’s debate. (RELATED: “Word clouds” show debate priorities of Obama, Romney, Lehrer)

For the second straight debate, Romney said “people” more than any other word — a total of 74 times. The next three most popular words in his portions of the transcript were “get,” “going” and “jobs.”

Obama, apparently preoccupied with attacking his opponent, said “Governor” 62 times, slightly more than the verbs “going” and “make.” The name “Romney” followed close behind with 47 mentions.

The transcript was published by ABC News. Wordle.com omits common short words like “and,” “a” and “the.” (RELATED: “Word cloud” shows priorities of Obama convention speech)

CNN’s broadcast included a pair of timers that kept track of how long the two candidates spoke. The final tallies were 44 minutes, 4 seconds for Obama; and 40 minutes, 50 seconds for Romney.

Yet even with more than a three-minute disadvantage, Romney said more than Obama. The transcript shows that the president’s portion totaled 7,507 words. The faster-talking Romney finished with 7,903.

Candy Crowley spoke a total of 1,833 words, the most common of which — no surprise — were “president,” “governor” and “question.”

Despite the on-air confrontation over the Sept. 11, 2012 assassination of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi, Libya — a fiery exchange that dominated the post-debate punditry — the words “terror” and “attack” barely registered on either candidate’s word clouds.

Romney said various forms of the word “terror” nine times, Obama just once.

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David Martosko