This thesis offers an analysis of the gendered rhetorical strategies that were used in the 2000 and 2004 U.S. presidential campaigns. It is based on a text analysis of the presidential debates, acceptance speeches to the Republican and Democratic conventions, and a selection of campaign films. The thesis argues that the most significant cluster of gendered images in the elections can be understood in light of paternal presidentialism. The term describes the presidential campaign rhetoric that circles the themes fatherly protection and care, as well as the encouragement for citizens to vest one’s hopes and trust in the president, which this discourse promotes. The thesis argues that the paternal presidentialism of the Office was damaged as result of the attempted impeachment of Bill Clinton in the wake of the Lewinsky affair. George Bush’s promise to restore “honor and dignity” to the White House is analyzed as an attempt on a restoration of the president as a moral leader, and a caretaker who is seen as “larger than life.” Al Gore strategy of disassociation with Clinton in the campaign can be read as tacit support of the restoration project. Leading up to the 2004 election, paternal presidentialism was visible in the form of masculinist protection of Americans from terrorism. The thesis argues, along with Iris Young, that the politics of paternal care and protection is a tradeoff between civil liberties and security that is very similar to the tradeoff a woman that enters a traditional marriage makes. Thus it can be argued that the population is “feminized,” or “infantilized” in the words of Lauren Berlant, in relation to the protective state and president. The thesis concludes with a discussion about the limits and possibilities gendered presidential campaign rhetoric in 2000 and 2004 indicated for women who would want to run for president.