Pres­i­den­tial de­bate is likely to be mem­o­rable

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - News -

Kennedy’s cam­paign.

‘No Soviet dom­i­na­tion’: Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent Ger­ald Ford’s in­sis­tence that “there is no Soviet dom­i­na­tion of East­ern Europe” dur­ing a 1976 de­bate against Demo­crat Jimmy Carter was such a blun­der that the ques­tioner asked whether he re­ally meant to say that.

“I’m sorry, could I just fol­low – did I un­der­stand you to say, sir, that the Rus­sians are not us­ing East­ern Europe as their own sphere of in­flu­ence in occupying most of the coun­tries there and mak­ing sure with their troops that it’s a Com­mu­nist zone?”

Ford said he did. Years later, Ford ac­knowl­edged, “There’s no ques­tion I did not ad­e­quately ex­plain what I was think­ing.”

Turn­ing age into a plus: Repub­li­can Ron­ald Rea­gan, then seek­ing to be­come the old­est pres­i­dent to win re­elec­tion, used hu­mor to ad­dress ques­tions about his ad­vanced age at a 1984 de­bate against Demo­crat Wal­ter Mon­dale.

When a ques­tioner asked Rea­gan if he had any doubts whether he had the strength for the job as his age, the then-73year-old was quick to re­spond: “Not at all. 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.”

Even Mon­dale, 56, had to laugh at that.

The kids are off-lim­its:

Demo­crat John Kerry’s re­sponse to a ques­tion about ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity dur­ing a 2004 pres­i­den­tial de­bate against Repub­li­can in­cum­bent Ge­orge W. Bush caused a fight be­tween him and Vice Pres­i­dent Dick Cheney. “I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney’s daugh­ter, who is a les­bian, she would tell you that she’s be­ing who she was. She’s be­ing who she was born as,” Kerry said. The Cheneys blasted Kerry for bring­ing up their daugh­ter, and the vice pres­i­dent de­scribed him­self as an “an­gry fa­ther.”

‘Binders full of women’: Dur­ing a 2012 pres­i­den­tial de­bate be­tween Repub­li­can Mitt Rom­ney and Demo­cratic in­cum­bent Barack Obama, Rom­ney was asked about pay eq­uity in the work­place for women. He talked about how he had pulled to­gether a list of can­di­dates for ad­min­is­tra­tion po­si­tions when he was Massachuse­tts’ gov­er­nor.

“I went to a num­ber of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks?’ And they brought us whole binders full of women,” Rom­ney said.

The com­ment drew ridicule al­most im­me­di­ately and was held up as an ex­am­ple of Rom­ney’s dis­so­nance on women’s is­sues.

Sur­prise pre-de­bate news con­fer­ence: The se­cond 2016 pres­i­den­tial de­bate was two days af­ter the re­lease of the 2005 “Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood” tape of Trump boast­ing about grab­bing women by the gen­i­tals, and Trump was de­ter­mined to change the nar­ra­tive.

He called a sur­prise news con­fer­ence hours ahead of the de­bate against Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton, and re­porters walked in to find Trump sit­ting at a ta­ble along­side three women who had ac­cused Clin­ton’s hus­band, for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, of un­wanted sex­ual ad­vances decades ear­lier. The women de­tailed their al­le­ga­tions against the for­mer pres­i­dent as Trump watched, his hands folded in front of him.

The women later joined him at the de­bate as his in­vited guests.

The 2016 low­light reel: The 2016 de­bates were filled with mo­ments that in any other elec­tion year would be the most no­table. In the first de­bate, Trump ques­tioned U.S. in­tel­li­gence find­ings that Rus­sia had hacked the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee: “It could also be some­body sit­ting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?”

In the se­cond de­bate, Trump loomed be­hind Clin­ton as she spoke, seem­ing to fol­low her around the stage. Clin­ton didn’t re­act in the mo­ment but later wrote in her mem­oir, “What Hap­pened,” that she wishes she had said, “Back up, you creep, get away from me.”

Trump re­ferred to Clin­ton as “the devil” and said his ad­min­is­tra­tion would ap­point a special pros­e­cu­tor to in­ves­ti­gate her use of a pri­vate com­puter server as sec­re­tary of state. “It’s just aw­fully good that some­one with the tem­per­a­ment of Don­ald Trump is not in charge of the law in our coun­try,” Clin­ton replied. Trump re­torted, “Be­cause you’d be in jail.”

In the third de­bate, Trump waded into un­charted ter­ri­tory for Amer­ica’s democ­racy by re­fus­ing to say if he’d ac­cept the re­sults of the elec­tion if Clin­ton won. “I will tell you at the time,” he said. “I’ll keep you in sus­pense.”


The 1960 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion of­fered the coun­try’s first tele­vised de­bate. Demo­crat John F. Kennedy, the hand­some young sen­a­tor, looked tan and re­laxed. Repub­li­can Richard Nixon, who had been sick and in the hospi­tal, looked hol­low-eyed and had a five o’clock shadow. Many con­sid­ered the de­bate a turn­ing point in Kennedy’s cam­paign.

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