United States presidential debates

During presidential elections in the United States, it has become customary for the main candidates (almost always the candidates of the two largest parties, currently the Democratic Party and the Republican Party) to engage in a debate. The topics discussed in the debate are often the most controversial issues of the time, and arguably elections have been nearly decided by these debates (e.g., Nixon vs. Kennedy). Candidate debates are not constitutionally mandated, but it is now considered a de facto election process.[1] The debates are targeted mainly at undecided voters; those who tend not to be partial to any political ideology or party.[2]

Presidential debates are held late in the election cycle, after the political parties have nominated their candidates. The candidates meet in a large hall, often at a university, before an audience of citizens. The formats of the debates have varied, with questions sometimes posed from one or more journalist moderators and in other cases members of the audience. Between 1988 and 2000, the formats have been governed in detail by secret memoranda of understanding (MOU) between the two major candidates; an MOU for 2004 was also negotiated, but unlike the earlier agreements it was jointly released by the two candidates.

Debates have been broadcast live on television, radio, and in recent years, the web. The first debate for the 1960 election drew over 66 million viewers out of a population of 179 million, making it one of the most-watched broadcasts in U.S. television history. The 1980 debates drew 80 million viewers out of a population of 226 million. Recent debates have drawn decidedly smaller audiences, ranging from 46 million for the first 2000 debate to a high of over 67 million for the first debate in 2012.[3] A record-breaking audience of over 84 million people watched the first 2016 presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, a number that does not reflect online streaming.[4]

Kennedy Nixon Debat (1960)
John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon participate in the second 1960 presidential debate, held in the NBC studios in Washington D.C. and moderated by Frank McGee.

History

Predecessors

While the first general presidential debate was not held until 1960, several other debates are considered predecessors to the presidential debates.

The series of seven debates in 1858 between Abraham Lincoln and Senator Stephen A. Douglas for U.S. Senate were true, face-to-face debates, with no moderator; the candidates took it in turns to open each debate with a one-hour speech, then the other candidate had an hour and a half to rebut, and finally the first candidate closed the debate with a half-hour response. Douglas was later re-elected to the Senate by the Illinois legislature. Lincoln and Douglas were both nominated for president in 1860 (by the Republicans and Northern Democrats, respectively), and their earlier debates helped define their respective positions in that election, but they did not meet during the campaign.

Republican candidate Wendell Willkie challenged President Franklin D. Roosevelt to a debate in 1940, but Roosevelt refused.

In 1948, a radio debate was held in Oregon between Thomas E. Dewey and Harold Stassen, Republican primary candidates for president. The Democrats followed suit in 1956, with a presidential primary debate between Adlai Stevenson and Estes Kefauver. The Student Government Association Council of the University of Maryland invited both presidential candidates to the campus to debate. In August 1956 the Baltimore Sun wrote an article with the headline "Immigrant Urges Presidential Debates." Both chairperson of both parties were contacted and considered the suggestion. Fred A. Kahn, a student of the University of Maryland, Class of 1960, was an early proponent of national presidential debates. In August 1956, Kahn sent a letter to UM President Wilson H. Elkins in which he proposed to have the U.S. presidential candidates from both political parties together on the same platform to answer questions from a panel of college students. Kahn also sent letters to the chairmen of the Democratic and Republican parties, Maryland Governor Theodore McKeldin, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Roosevelt responded to Kahn that she "felt this might be something that would arose (sic) the interest of young people all over the country" and that she thought "it would be a gesture not only to all those at the University of Maryland but to young people in this group all over the country." Roosevelt also sent a letter regarding Kahn's proposal to James Finnegan, Adlai Stevenson's campaign manager, endorsing Kahn's proposal. The precise impact of Kahn's proposal on the Kennedy-Nixon debates during the 1960 presidential campaign is unclear, but his ideas did receive national press exposure. Four years later the first televised debates (the Kennedy-Nixon debates) were held.

1960 Kennedy–Nixon debates

The first general election presidential debate was held on September 26, 1960, between U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the Democratic nominee, and Vice President Richard Nixon, the Republican nominee, in Chicago at the studios of CBS's WBBM-TV. It was moderated by Howard K. Smith and included a panel composed of Sander Vanocur of NBC News, Charles Warren of Mutual News, Stuart Novins of CBS, and Bob Fleming of ABC News. Historian J.N. Druckman observed "television primes its audience to rely more on their perceptions of candidate image (e.g., integrity). At the same time, television has also coincided with the world becoming more polarized and ideologically driven."[5] From the outset, Nixon was considered to have the upper hand due to his knowledge of foreign policy and proficiency in radio debates. However, because of his unfamiliarity with the new format of televised debates, factors such as his underweight and pale appearance, the suit color blending in with the debate set background, reducing his stature, and refusing television makeup resulting in a 5 O'Clock shadow led to his defeat. Many observers have regarded JFK's win over Nixon in the first debate as a turning point in the election.[6][7] After the first debate, polls showed Kennedy moving from a slight deficit into a slight lead over Nixon.

Three more debates were subsequently held between the candidates:[8] On October 7 at the WRC-TV NBC studio in Washington, D.C., narrated by Frank McGee with a panel of four newsmen Paul Niven, CBS; Edward P. Morgan, ABC; Alvin Spivak, UPI;[9] Harold R. Levy, Newsday; October 13, with Nixon at the ABC studio in Los Angeles and Kennedy at the ABC studio in New York, narrated by Bill Shadel with a panel of four newsmen; and October 21 at the ABC studio in New York, narrated by Quincy Howe with a panel of four including Frank Singiser, John Edwards, Walter Cronkite, and John Chancellor. Nixon regained his lost weight, wore television makeup, and appeared more forceful than in his initial appearance, winning the second and third debates while the fourth was a draw, however the viewership numbers of these subsequent events did not match the high set by the first debate. Nixon later refused to do television debates in 1968 and 1972 as he felt his appearance had cost him against JFK in the tight-run race.

1968 and 1972 primary debates

General election debates were not held for the elections of 1964, 1968 and 1972, although intra-party debates were held during the primaries between Democrats Robert F. Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy in 1968 and between Democrats George McGovern, Hubert Humphrey and others in 1972.

1976 to present

Carter and Ford in a debate, September 23, 1976
Carter and Ford debate domestic policy at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia (September 23, 1976).

It was not until 1976 that a second series of televised presidential debates was held during the general election campaign season.[10] The debates were sponsored by League of Women Voters.[11] On September 23, 1976, Democratic candidate, Governor Jimmy Carter of Georgia, and the Republican incumbent, President Gerald Ford from Michigan, agreed to three debates (one on domestic issues, one on foreign policy, and one on any topic) on television before studio audiences. A single vice-presidential debate was also held that year between Democratic Senator Walter Mondale and Republican Senator Bob Dole.

Roughly an hour into the first televised debate, the broadcast audio coming from the Walnut Street Theatre and fed to all networks suddenly cut out, effectively muting the candidates in the middle of a statement by Carter. The two candidates were initially unaware of this technical glitch and continued to debate, unheard to the television audience. They were soon informed of this problem, and proceeded to stand still and silently at their podiums for about 27 minutes, until the problem - a blown capacitor - was located and fixed, in time for Carter to briefly finish the statement he had begun when the audio cut out, and for both candidates to issue closing statements.

The dramatic effect of televised presidential debates was demonstrated again in the 1976 debates between Ford and Carter. Ford had already cut into Carter's large lead in the polls, and was generally viewed as having won the first debate on domestic policy. Polls released after this first debate indicated the race was even. However, in the second debate on foreign policy, Ford made what was widely viewed as a major blunder when he said "There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration." After this, Ford's momentum stalled, and Carter won a very close election.[12][13]

Carter Reagan Debate 10-28-80
President Jimmy Carter (left) and former Governor Ronald Reagan (right) at the presidential debate October 28, 1980. Reagan most memorably deployed the phrase "there you go again."

Debates were a major factor again in 1980. Earlier in the election season, President Carter had a lead over his opponent, Governor Ronald Reagan of California. Three debates between President Jimmy Carter, former California Governor Ronald Reagan and Illinois Congressman John B. Anderson were scheduled; along with a Vice Presidential debate between Vice President Walter Mondale, former CIA Director George H. W. Bush, and former Wisconsin Governor Patrick Joseph Lucey. Carter refused to debate if Anderson was present and Reagan refused to debate without Anderson, resulting in the first debate being between Reagan and Anderson only. The second debate and the Vice Presidential debate were both cancelled. Reagan conceded Carter's demands and the third debate took place with only Carter and Reagan. In the debate, with years of experience in front of a camera as an actor, Reagan came across much better than Carter and was judged by voters to have won the debate by a wide margin. This helped propel Reagan into a landslide victory. The Reagan campaign had access to internal debate briefing materials for Carter; the exposure of this in 1983 led to a public scandal called "Debategate".

In 1984, former Vice President Walter Mondale won the first debate over President Ronald Reagan, generating much-needed donations to Mondale's lagging campaign. The second presidential debate was held on October 21, 1984, where Ronald Reagan used a joke, "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience", which effectively stalled Mondale's momentum.

Since 1976, each presidential election has featured a series of vice presidential debates. Vice presidential debates have been held regularly since 1984. Vice Presidential debates have been largely uneventful and have historically had little impact on the election. Perhaps the most memorable moment in a Vice Presidential debate came in the 1988 debate between Republican Dan Quayle and Democrat Lloyd Bentsen. Quayle's selection by the incumbent Vice-President and Republican Presidential candidate George Bush was widely criticized; one reason being his relative lack of experience. In the debate, Quayle attempted to ease this fear by stating that he had as much experience as John F. Kennedy did when he ran for President in 1960. Democrat Bentsen countered with the now famous statement: "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

Abc facebook debate saint anselm
The stage at Saint Anselm College during the ABC/Facebook debates in 2008

The year 1992 featured the first debate involving both major-party candidates and a third-party candidate, billionaire Ross Perot running against President Bush and the Democrat nominee Governor Bill Clinton. In that year, President Bush was criticized for his early hesitation to join the debates, and some described him as a "chicken." Furthermore, he was criticized for looking at his watch which aides initially said was meant to track if the other candidates were debating within their time limits but ultimately it was revealed that the president indeed was checking how much time was left in the debate.

Moderators of nationally televised presidential debates have included Bernard Shaw, Bill Moyers, Jim Lehrer, and Barbara Walters.

Saint Anselm College has hosted four primary debates throughout 2004 and 2008; it is a favorite for campaign stops and these national debates because of the college's history in the New Hampshire primary.

Washington University in St. Louis, however, has hosted the presidential debates (organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates) three times (in 1992, 2000, and 2004), more than any other location prior to 2016, and it has been selected to host one of the 2016 debates. The university was also scheduled to host a debate in 1996, but it was later negotiated between the two presidential candidates to reduce the number of debates from three to two. The university hosted the only 2008 Vice Presidential debate, as well.[14]

Hofstra University, originally an alternate site, was named the host of the first presidential debate in 2016, after Wright State University withdrew with eight weeks remaining. This positioned Hofstra to be the only school to host presidential debates in three consecutive campaign cycles.[15]

Rules and format

Some of the debates can feature the candidates standing behind their podiums, or in conference tables with the moderator on the other side. Depending on the agreed format, either the moderator or an audience member can be the one to ask questions. Typically there are no opening statements, just closing statements.

A coin toss determines who gets to answer the first question and who will make their closing remarks first. Each candidate will get alternate turns. Once a question is asked, the candidate has 2 minutes to answer the question. After this, the opposing candidate has around 1 minute to respond and rebut her/his arguments. At the moderator's discretion, the discussion of the question may be extended by 30 seconds per candidate.

In recent debates, colored lights resembling traffic lights have been installed to aid the candidate as to the time left with green indicating 30 seconds, yellow indicating 15 seconds and red indicating only 5 seconds are left. If necessary, a buzzer may be used or a flag.

Debate sponsorship

Control of the presidential debates has been a ground of struggle for more than two decades. The role was filled by the nonpartisan League of Women Voters (LWV) civic organization in 1976, 1980 and 1984.[11] In 1987, the LWV withdrew from debate sponsorship, in protest of the major party candidates attempting to dictate nearly every aspect of how the debates were conducted. On October 2, 1988, the LWV's 14 trustees voted unanimously to pull out of the debates, and on October 3 they issued a press release:[16]

The League of Women Voters is withdrawing sponsorship of the presidential debates...because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter. It has become clear to us that the candidates' organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.

According to the LWV, they pulled out because "the campaigns presented the League with their debate agreement on September 28, two weeks before the scheduled debate. The campaigns' agreement was negotiated 'behind closed doors' ... [with] 16 pages of conditions not subject to negotiation. Most objectionable to the League...were conditions in the agreement that gave the campaigns unprecedented control over the proceedings.... [including] control the selection of questioners, the composition of the audience, hall access for the press and other issues."[16]

The same year the two major political parties assumed control of organizing presidential debates through the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). The commission has been headed since its inception by former chairs of the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee.

Some have criticized the exclusion of third party and independent candidates as contributing to lower results for candidates such as the Libertarian Party or the Green Party. Others criticize the parallel interview format as a minimum of getting 15 percent in opinion polls is required to be invited. In 2004, the Citizens' Debate Commission (CDC) was formed with the stated mission of returning control of the debates to an independent nonpartisan body rather than a bipartisan body. Nevertheless, the CPD retained control of the debates that year and in 2008.

Timeline

Source: Commission on Presidential Debates - Debate history
Election Number of presidential debates Number of vice presidential debates
1960 Four debates between Vice President Richard Nixon and Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy None
1964
1968
1972
None
1976 Three debates between President Gerald Ford and former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter One debate between Kansas Senator Bob Dole and Minnesota Senator Walter Mondale
1980 One debate between former California Governor Ronald Reagan and Illinois Representative John B. Anderson, and one debate between President Jimmy Carter and Reagan None
1984 Two debates between President Ronald Reagan and former Vice President Walter Mondale One debate between Vice President George H. W. Bush and New York Representative Geraldine Ferraro
1988 Two debates between Vice President George H. W. Bush and Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis One debate between Indiana Senator Dan Quayle and Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen
1992 Three debates among President George H. W. Bush, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton and businessman Ross Perot One debate among Vice President Dan Quayle, Tennessee Senator Al Gore and former Vice Admiral of the Navy James Stockdale
1996 Two debates between President Bill Clinton and former Kansas Senator Bob Dole One debate between Vice President Al Gore and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Jack Kemp
2000 Three debates between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush One debate between Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman and former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney
2004 Three debates between President George W. Bush and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry One debate between Vice President Dick Cheney and North Carolina Senator John Edwards
2008 Three debates between Arizona Senator John McCain and Illinois Senator Barack Obama One debate between Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Delaware Senator Joe Biden
2012 Three debates between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney One debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan
2016 Three debates between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and businessman Donald Trump One debate between Virginia Senator Tim Kaine and Indiana Governor Mike Pence

Sponsors, locations, moderators, panelists and viewership

Election Debate Sponsor Location Moderators Panelists, pool coverage, etc. Viewship Source
1960 First debate Sponsored jointly by the "Big Three" television networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) WBBM-TV studios
(Chicago, Illinois)
Howard K. Smith of CBS Sander Vanocur (NBC), Charles Warren (Mutual), Stuart Novins (CBS) 66.4 million [17]
Second debate WRC-TV studios
(Washington, D.C.)
Frank McGee of NBC Paul Niven (CBS), Edward P. Morgan (ABC), Alvin Spivak (UPI), Harold R. Levy (Newsday) 61.9 million
Third debate Split-screen telecast with Nixon and panelists in ABC studio in Los Angeles and Kennedy in ABC studio in New York Bill Shadel of ABC Frank McGee (NBC), Charles Van Fremd (CBS), Douglass Cater (The Reporter), Roscoe Drummond (New York Herald Tribune)
News: Bob Fleming (ABC)
63.7 million
Fourth debate ABC Studios
(New York, New York)
Quincy Howe of ABC Frank Singiser (Mutual), John Edwards (ABC), Walter Cronkite (CBS), John Chancellor (NBC)
News: Bob Fleming (ABC)
60.4 million
1976 First debate League of Women Voters Walnut Street Theater
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Edwin Newman of NBC Frank Reynolds (ABC), James Gannon (WSJ), Elizabeth Drew (New Yorker) 69.7 million [18]
Second debate Palace of Fine Arts
(San Francisco, California)
Pauline Frederick of NPR Max Frankel (NYT), Henry L. Trewitt (Baltimore Sun), Richard Valeriani (NBC) 63.9 million
Third debate Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall at College of William and Mary
(Williamsburg, Virginia)
Barbara Walters of ABC Joseph Kraft (syndicated columnist), Robert Maynard (Washington Post), Jack Nelson (LA Times) 62.7 million
VP Debate Alley Theatre
(Houston, Texas)
James Hoge of the Chicago Sun-Times Hal Bruno (Newsweek), Marilyn Berger (NBC), Walter Mears (AP) 43.2 million
1980 First debate League of Women Voters Baltimore Convention Center
(Baltimore, Maryland)
Bill Moyers of PBS Carol Loomis (Fortune), Daniel Greenberg (syndicated columnist), Charles Corddry (Baltimore Sun), Lee May (LA Times), Jane Bryant Quinn (Newsweek), Soma Golden (NYT) [19]
Second debate Public Music Hall
(Cleveland, Ohio)
Howard K. Smith of ABC Marvin Stone (U.S. News & World Report), Harry Ellis (CSM), William Hilliard (Portland Oregonian), Barbara Walters (ABC) 80.6 million
1984 First debate League of Women Voters Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts
(Louisville, Kentucky)
Barbara Walters of ABC James Wieghart (NYDN), Diane Sawyer (ABC), Fred Barnes (New Republic) 65.1 million [20]
Second debate Music Hall, Municipal Auditorium
(Kansas City, Missouri)
Edwin Newman Georgie Anne Geyer Universal Press, Marvin Kalb (NBC), Morton Kondracke (New Republic) 67.3 million
VP debate Philadelphia Convention Hall and Civic Center
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Sander Vanocur of ABC John Mashek (U.S. News & World Report), Jack White (Time), Norma Quarles (NBC), Robert Boyd (Knight Ridder) 56.7 million
1988 First debate Commission on Presidential Debates Wait Chapel at Wake Forest University
(Winston-Salem, North Carolina)
Jim Lehrer of PBS John Mashek (Atlanta Constitution), Peter Jennings (ABC), Anne Groer (Orlando Sentinel) 65.1 million [21]
Second debate Pauley Pavilion at UCLA
(Los Angeles, California)
Bernard Shaw of CNN Andrea Mitchell (NBC), Ann Compton (ABC), Margaret Warner (Newsweek) 67.3 million
VP debate Omaha Civic Auditorium
(Omaha, Nebraska)
Judy Woodruff of PBS Tom Brokaw (NBC), Jon Margolis (Chicago Tribune), Brit Hume (ABC) 46.9 million
1992 First debate Commission on Presidential Debates Field House at Washington University
(St. Louis, Missouri)
Jim Lehrer of PBS Sander Vanocur (independent journalist), Ann Compton (ABC); John Mashek (Boston Globe) 62.4 million [22]
Second debate Robins Center at University of Richmond
(Richmond, Virginia)
Carole Simpson of ABC Questioners: 209 uncommitted voters town-hall debate 69.9 million
Third debate Wharton Center for Performing Arts at MSU
(East Lansing, Michigan)
Jim Lehrer of PBS Gene Gibbons (Reuters), Helen Thomas (UPI), Susan Rook (CNN) 66.9 million
VP debate Theater for the Arts at Georgia Tech
(Atlanta, Georgia)
Hal Bruno of ABC N/A 51.2 million
1996 First debate Commission on Presidential Debates Mortensen Hall at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts
(Hartford, Connecticut)
Jim Lehrer of PBS N/A 46.1 million [23]
Second debate Shiley Theater at University of San Diego
(San Diego, California)
Questioners: 133 uncommitted voters town-hall debate 36.3 million
VP debate Mahaffey Theater
(St. Petersburg, Florida)
N/A 26.6 million
2000 First debate Commission on Presidential Debates Clark Athletic Center at University of Massachusetts
(Boston, Massachusetts)
Jim Lehrer of PBS Pool coverage provided by: FOX 46.6 million [24]
VP debate Norton Center for the Arts at Centre College
(Danville, Kentucky)
Bernard Shaw of CNN Pool coverage provided by: CNN 28.5 million
Second debate Wait Chapel at Wake Forest University
(Winston-Salem, North Carolina)
Jim Lehrer of PBS Pool coverage provided by: NBC 37.5 million
Third debate Field House at Washington University
(St. Louis, Missouri)
Questioners: Voters town-hall debate
Pool coverage provided by: ABC
37.7 million
2004 First debate Commission on Presidential Debates Convocation Center at University of Miami
(Coral Gables, Florida)
Jim Lehrer of PBS Pool coverage provided by: FOX 62.4 million [25]
VP debate Veale Center at Case Western Reserve University
(Cleveland, Ohio)
Gwen Ifill of PBS Pool coverage provided by: ABC 43.5 million
Second debate Washington University
(St. Louis, Missouri)
Charles Gibson of ABC Pool coverage provided by: NBC 46.7 million
Third debate Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium at ASU
(Tempe, Arizona)
Bob Schieffer of CBS Pool coverage provided by: ABC 51.1 million
2008 First debate Commission on Presidential Debates University of Mississippi
(Oxford, Mississippi)
Jim Lehrer of PBS Pool coverage provided by: CBS 52.4 million [26]
VP debate Washington University
(St. Louis, Missouri)
Gwen Ifill of PBS Pool coverage provided by: CNN 69.9 million
Second debate Belmont University
(Nashville, Tennessee)
Tom Brokaw of NBC Pool coverage provided by: CBS 63.2 million
Third debate Hofstra University
(Hempstead, New York)
Bob Schieffer of CBS Pool coverage provided by: ABC 56.5 million
2012 First debate Commission on Presidential Debates University of Denver
(Denver, Colorado)
Jim Lehrer of PBS Pool coverage provided by: ABC 67.2 million [27]
VP debate Centre College
(Danville, Kentucky)
Martha Raddatz of ABC Pool coverage provided by: CNN 51.4 million
Second debate Hofstra University
(Hempstead, New York)
Candy Crowley of CNN Pool coverage provided by: FOX 65.6 million
Third debate Wold Performing Arts Center at Lynn University
(Boca Raton, Florida)
Bob Schieffer of CBS Pool coverage provided by: ABC 59.2 million
2016 First debate Commission on Presidential Debates Hofstra University
(Hempstead, New York)
Lester Holt of NBC 84 million
VP debate Longwood University
(Farmville, Virginia)
Elaine Quijano of CBS 36 million
Second debate Washington University
(St. Louis, Missouri)
Anderson Cooper of CNN and Martha Raddatz of ABC Questioners: Undecided voters town-hall debate 66.5 million
Third debate Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV
(Paradise, Nevada)
Chris Wallace of FOX 71.6 million

References

  1. ^ "CPD: The Commission on Presidential Debates: An Overview". debates.org. Retrieved 2016-09-28.
  2. ^ "The Debate and the Undecided Voter". 2016-09-23. Retrieved 2016-09-28.
  3. ^ Shapiro, Rebecca. Presidential Debate Ratings: Over 67 Million Viewers Tune In. The Huffington Post. 2012-10-04. Retrieved 2012-10-27.
  4. ^ Stelter, Brian (2016-09-27). "Debate breaks record as most-watched in U.S. history". CNNMoney. Retrieved 2016-09-28.
  5. ^ Druckman, J. N. (2003). "The Power of Television Images: The First Kennedy Nixon Debate Revisited." Journal of Politics, 65(2), 559-571. Retrieved from EBSCOhost
  6. ^ Norton, Bruce (September 26, 2005). "Kennedy-Nixon debate changed politics for good: First televised debate didn't turn on words". CNN.
  7. ^ "The First JFK-Nixon Debate: Charisma and on-camera personality were keys to winning the first televised presidential debate". History. Retrieved June 14, 2016.
  8. ^ "Kennedy-Nixon Debates," The Mary Ferrell Foundation
  9. ^ "1960 Debates". Commission on Presidential Debates. Commission on Presidential Debates. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  10. ^ Golway, Terry. "There We Go Again Archived 2009-10-04 at the Wayback Machine" American Heritage, August/September 2004.
  11. ^ a b "League of Women Voters and the Presidential Debates". League of Women Voters. June 12, 2010. Archived from the original on March 23, 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ "The Blooper Heard Round the World". Time. 1976-10-18. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
  14. ^ Washington University in St. Louis :: Vice Presidential Debate 2008
  15. ^ News@Hofstra
  16. ^ a b Neuman, Nancy M. (October 2, 1988). "League Refuses to "Help Perpetrate a Fraud"". Press release. League of Women Voters. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
  17. ^ "1960 Debates". www.debates.org. Debates.org. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  18. ^ "1976 Debates". www.debates.org. Debates.org. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  19. ^ "1980 Debates". www.debates.org. Debates.org. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  20. ^ "1984 Debates". www.debates.org. Debates.org. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  21. ^ "1988 Debates". www.debates.org. Debates.org. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  22. ^ "1992 Debates". www.debates.org. Debates.org. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  23. ^ "1996 Debates". www.debates.org. Debates.org. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  24. ^ "2000 Debates". www.debates.org. Debates.org. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  25. ^ "2004 Debates". www.debates.org. Debates.org. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  26. ^ "2008 Debates". www.debates.org. Debates.org. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  27. ^ "2012 Debates". www.debates.org. Debates.org. Retrieved October 17, 2016.

Further reading

External links

Debate critics and activists

1976 United States presidential debates

The United States presidential election debates were held during the 1976 presidential election. Three debates were held between Republican candidate, incumbent president Gerald Ford and Democratic governor Jimmy Carter, the major candidates. One debate was held with their vice presidential running mates, Bob Dole and Walter Mondale.

The vice presidential debate was held on October 15 at the Alley Theatre. The presidential debates were held on September 23 at the Walnut Street Theater, October 6 at the Palace of Fine Arts and on October 22 at the College of William & Mary, ahead of the November 7 Election Day. All of the debates were sponsored by the League of Women Voters. In each of the debates, the candidates received questioned in turn with three minutes to answer and a 60-second rebuttal.

1980 United States presidential debates

The 1980 United States presidential debates were a series of debates held for the presidential election. The League of Women Voters organized two presidential debates: the first on September 21, 1980, and the second on October 28, 1980. The second presidential debate is the second most-watched debate in American history.

The Republican nominee Ronald Reagan participated in both debates. Independent candidate John B. Anderson only participated in the first debate, while the Democratic nominee and incumbent President Jimmy Carter participated in the second debate.

1984 United States presidential debates

As part of the 1984 United States presidential election, on October 11, 1984, the Democratic Party nominee for Vice President of the United States, Representative Geraldine Ferraro from New York, and the Republican Party nominee, incumbent Vice President George H.W. Bush, participated in a televised campaign debate. The debate was the first vice presidential debate to feature a woman and was the only vice presidential debate in the race. It was moderated by Sander Vanocur of ABC News and held at the Philadelphia Civic Center.

1992 United States presidential debates

The 1992 vice-presidential debate was part of the 1992 presidential election. The participants were Democratic candidate, U.S. Senator Al Gore from Tennessee; Independent candidate, retired Vice Admiral James Stockdale; and Republican candidate, incumbent Vice President Dan Quayle. It was held on Tuesday, October 13, 1992.

The debate was held at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia. Hal Bruno of ABC News served as moderator. Stockdale, Perot's running mate, became an object of ridicule afterwards including being lampooned on Saturday Night Live. Stockdale often seemed confused and disoriented; at one point he asked that a question be repeated because his hearing aid was not on. At another point when asked about abortion, Stockdale merely said "What a woman does with her body is her business period". However, it should be pointed out that Stockdale only had one week to prepare for the debate and had not discussed any of the issues with Perot beforehand. At one point, when Quayle and Gore were squabbling back and forth, Stockdale said, "I think you can see why this country is in gridlock".

1996 United States presidential debates

The United States presidential election debates were held during the 1996 presidential election. Three debates were held between Republican candidate, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and Democratic incumbent President Bill Clinton, the major candidates. One debate was held with their vice presidential running mates, Jack Kemp and Al Gore. All three debates were sponsored by the non-profit Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), which has organized presidential debates since its establishment in 1987.

The vice presidential debate was held on October 9 at the Mahaffey Theater. The presidential debates were held on October 6 at The Bushnell and October 16 at University of San Diego, ahead of the November 7 Election Day. Jim Lehrer moderated each of the presidential debates. In each of the first two debates, the candidates received questioned in turn with two minutes to answer and a 60-second rebuttal. The third and final debate featured a town hall meeting format.

2000 United States presidential debates

The United States presidential election debates were held during the 2000 presidential election. Three debates were held between Republican candidate, Texas Governor George W. Bush and Democratic incumbent Vice President Al Gore, the major candidates. One debate was held with their vice presidential running mates, Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman. All four debates were sponsored by the non-profit Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), which has organized presidential debates since its establishment in 1987.

The vice presidential debate was held on October 5 at Centre College. The presidential debates were held on October 3 at the University of Massachusetts Boston, October 11 at Wake Forest University, and October 17 at Washington University, ahead of the November 7 Election Day. Jim Lehrer moderated each of the presidential debates. In each of the first two debates, the candidates received questioned in turn with two minutes to answer and a 60-second rebuttal. The third and final debate featured a town hall meeting format.

2004 United States presidential debates

The United States presidential election debates were held in the 2004 presidential election. Three debates were held between Republican incumbent George W. Bush and Democratic candidate John Kerry, the major candidates, and one debate was held with their vice presidential running mates, incumbent Dick Cheney and John Edwards. All four debates were sponsored by the non-profit Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), which has organized presidential debates since its establishment in 1987.

The vice presidential debate was held on October 5 at Case Western Reserve University. The presidential debates were held on September 30 at the University of Miami, October 8 at Washington University in St. Louis, and October 13 at Arizona State University, ahead of the November 2 Election Day. Different moderators and debate formats were used in each debate.

An alternative was proposed by the Citizens' Debate Commission, but was not carried out. There were several third-party candidate debates also held independently from the CPD-sponsored debates. The debates were the latest in a series of presidential debates first held during the 1960 presidential election and held every four years since the 1976 election.

Post-debate polls generally suggested that the 2004 presidential debates were a positive factor for John Kerry's candidacy, as CNN/USA Today/Gallup immediate post-debate polls showed that Kerry clearly won the first and third debates in the eyes of the American television audience, and he tied with Bush in the second. In the follow-up polls taken days after the first two debates, Kerry's perceived positive performance in the debates increased, so that the public then saw Kerry, rather than Bush, as the winner of all three debates.

2008 Democratic Party presidential debates and forums

The 2008 Democratic presidential debates were debates prior to and during the 2008 Democratic primaries. The debates began on April 26, 2007, in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

2008 Republican Party presidential debates and forums

The 2008 Republican Presidential Debates were political debates before the 2008 Republican Primaries. The first was May 3, 2007, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. Other debates have taken place in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida. They were generally broadcast by television networks.

The debates can have a substantial effect on the primaries and are important chances for the public to compare the candidates side-by-side.

2008 United States presidential debates

The United States presidential election of 2008 was sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), a bipartisan organization that sponsored four debates that occurred at various locations around the United States (U.S.) in September and October 2008. Three of the debates involved the presidential nominees, and one involved the vice-presidential nominees.

Republican Party nominee John McCain and Democratic Party nominee Barack Obama did not agree to additional debates; however, each was interviewed at the Civil Forum on the Presidency, held on August 16, 2008, and at the Service Nation Presidential Forum on September 11, 2008. Their respective running mates, Sarah Palin and Joe Biden, did not participate in any additional debates.

2012 United States presidential debates

The bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) held four debates for the 2012 U.S. presidential general election, slated for various locations around the United States in October 2012 – three of them involving the major party presidential nominees (later determined to be Democratic President Barack Obama from Illinois and former Republican Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts), and one involving the vice-presidential nominees (Vice President Joe Biden from Delaware and Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin).The CPD stipulates three criteria for eligibility: constitutionally eligible, appearance on enough ballots to potentially reach 270 electoral votes, and average at least 15% on five selected national polls. Four candidates achieved the first two criteria: Democratic nominee Barack Obama, Green nominee Jill Stein, Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, and Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Only Obama and Romney also satisfied the third criterion of averaging 15% in five selected national polls and thus were the only two to appear in 2012 CPD debates.

The moderators for the debates were announced on August 13, 2012.All four debates took place between 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. PDT).Subsequently, on October 3, 2012, both campaigns executed a memorandum of understanding governing technical and administrative details of the debate. The agreement describes the role of the moderator, rules applicable to each debate, staging and seating arrangements, and ticket distribution, and was signed by Robert Bauer and Benjamin Ginsberg, general counsel of the Obama and Romney campaigns, respectively.A non-CPD sanctioned debate, moderated by Larry King and organized by the Free and Equal Elections Foundation in protest of the CPD's monopoly of presidential debates, took place on October 23, 2012 between 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. EDT. Four third party candidates — Rocky Anderson, Virgil Goode, Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein — took part. Romney and Obama were also invited, but declined to participate. On October 22, the Free and Equal Elections Foundation announced a second third-party presidential debate that was originally scheduled between 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. EDT on October 30, featuring the top two candidates from the post-debate poll conducted after the first debate. Jill Stein and Gary Johnson were selected for the second debate using Instant run-off voting. The debate was hosted by RT. On October 28, the date of this debate was changed to November 5 due to Hurricane Sandy.Ralph Nader hosted and moderated a 2-hour presidential debate between Rocky Anderson, Jill Stein, Virgil Goode, and Gary Johnson, on November 4, 2012.

2016 Green Party presidential debates and forums

The Green presidential debates are a series of political debates between the Green candidates for president in the United States 2016 presidential election.

2016 United States presidential debates

The 2016 United States presidential debates were a series of debates held for the presidential election. The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), a bipartisan organization formed in 1987, organized three debates among the major presidential candidates. The first presidential debate for the 2016 election took place on September 26, 2016, and set the record as the most-watched debate in American history, with 84 million viewers. The only vice-presidential debate was held on October 4. The second presidential debate took place on October 9, and the final debate took place on October 19. All CPD debates occurred from approximately 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. PDT).

Only the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and the Republican nominee Donald Trump met the criteria for inclusion in the debates, and thus were the only two to appear in the debates. Hillary Clinton was considered to have won all three presidential debates and Mike Pence was considered to have won the Vice-Presidential debate in opinion polls of likely voters. Despite this, Donald Trump won the presidential election held on November 8.

2020 United States presidential election

The 2020 United States presidential election, scheduled for Tuesday, November 3, 2020, will be the 59th quadrennial U.S. presidential election. Voters will select presidential electors who in turn on December 14, 2020, will either elect a new president and vice president or re-elect the incumbents. In the event that no candidate receives the minimum 270 electoral votes needed to win the election, the United States House of Representatives will select the president from three candidates that received the most electoral votes, and the United States Senate will select the vice president from the candidates that received the two highest totals. The series of presidential primary elections and caucuses are likely to be held during the first six months of 2020. This nominating process is also an indirect election, where voters cast ballots selecting a slate of delegates to a political party's nominating convention, who then in turn elect their party's presidential nominee.

President Donald Trump of the Republican Party, who was elected in 2016, is seeking re-election to a second term. The winner of the 2020 presidential election is scheduled to be inaugurated on January 20, 2021.

Binders full of women

"Binders full of women" was a phrase used by Mitt Romney on October 16, 2012 during the second U.S. presidential debate of 2012. Romney used the phrase in response to a question about pay equity, referring to ring binders with résumés of female job applicants submitted to him as governor of Massachusetts. The phrase was depicted by Romney's detractors as demeaning and insensitive toward women and was widely mocked. This prompted the phrase's use for political attacks on Romney's positions on women's issues, as well as the development of an Internet meme.

Presidential Forum on Renewable Energy

The Presidential Forum on Renewable Energy was created to ensure that renewable energy, sustainability, and conservation were top issues in the 2008 Presidential election. It brought together 2008 Presidential Candidates to generate discussion and foster innovation.

Republican Party presidential debates

Since 1980, the Republican Party of the United States has held debates between candidates for the Republican nomination in presidential elections during the primary election season. Unlike debates between party-nominated candidates, which have been organized by the bi-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates since 1988, debates between candidates for party nomination are organized by mass media outlets.

Party presidential debates are typically not held when an incumbent president is running for a second term.

There you go again

"There you go again" was a phrase spoken during the second presidential debate of 1980 by Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan to his Democratic opponent, incumbent President Jimmy Carter. Reagan would use the line in a few debates over the years, always in a way intended to disarm his opponent."There you go again" emerged as a defining phrase of the 1980 presidential election. The phrase has endured in the political lexicon in news headlines, as a way to quickly imply that an opponent is engaged in hyperbole or even hysterical comments.

Where's the beef?

"Where's the beef?" is a catchphrase in the United States and Canada introduced in 1984. The phrase originated as a slogan for the fast food chain Wendy's. Since then it has become an all-purpose phrase questioning the substance of an idea, event or product.

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