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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]

Contents

1 History

1.1 Predecessors 1.2 1960 Kennedy–Nixon debates 1.3 1968 and 1972 primary debates 1.4 1976 to present

2 Rules and format 3 Debate
Debate
sponsorship 4 Timeline

4.1 Sponsors, locations, moderators, panelists and viewership

5 References 6 Further reading 7 External links

7.1 Debate
Debate
critics and activists

History[edit] Predecessors[edit]

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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
Abraham Lincoln
and Senator Stephen A. Douglas
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
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
Wendell Willkie
challenged President Franklin D. Roosevelt to a debate in 1940, but Roosevelt refused. In 1948, a radio debate was held in Oregon
Oregon
between Thomas E. Dewey
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
University
of Maryland
Maryland
invited both presidential candidates to the campus to debate. In August 1956 the Baltimore Sun
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
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
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
University
of Maryland
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[edit]

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The first general election presidential debate was held on September 26, 1960, between U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy, the Democratic nominee, and Vice President Richard Nixon, the Republican nominee, in Chicago
Chicago
at the studios of CBS's WBBM-TV. It was moderated by Howard K. Smith and included a panel composed of Sander Vanocur
Sander Vanocur
of NBC
NBC
News, Charles Warren
Charles Warren
of Mutual News, Stuart Novins
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
WRC-TV
NBC
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
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[edit] 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
Robert F. Kennedy
and Eugene McCarthy in 1968 and between Democrats George McGovern, Hubert Humphrey
Hubert Humphrey
and others in 1972.[citation needed] 1976 to present[edit]

Carter and Ford debate domestic policy at the Walnut Street Theatre
Walnut Street Theatre
in Philadelphia
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
Jimmy Carter
of Georgia, and the Republican incumbent, President Gerald Ford
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
Walter Mondale
and Republican Senator Bob Dole. Roughly an hour into the first televised debate, the broadcast audio coming from the Walnut Street Theatre
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]

President Jimmy Carter
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
California
Governor Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
and Illinois
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
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
Walter Mondale
won the first debate over President Ronald Reagan, in part by criticizing Reagan's age, a performance that generated much-needed donations to Mondale's lagging campaign. The second presidential debate was held on October 21, 1984, where Ronald Reagan
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 negated the age issue and 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
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
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."

The stage at Saint Anselm College
Saint Anselm College
during the ABC/ Facebook
Facebook
debates in 2008

The year 1992 featured the first debate involving both major-party candidates and a third-party candidate, billionaire Ross Perot
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
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
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
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[edit] 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
Debate
sponsorship[edit] Main article: Commission on Presidential Debates
Commission on Presidential Debates
§ Criticism 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
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
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
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[edit]

Source: Commission on Presidential Debates
Commission on Presidential Debates
- Debate
Debate
history

Election Number of presidential debates Number of vice presidential debates

1960 Four debates between Vice President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
and Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy None

1964 1968 1972 None

1976 Three debates between President Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
and former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter One debate between Kansas
Kansas
Senator Bob Dole
Bob Dole
and Minnesota
Minnesota
Senator Walter Mondale

1980 One debate between former California
California
Governor Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
and Illinois
Illinois
Representative John B. Anderson, and one debate between President Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
and Reagan None

1984 Two debates between President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
and former Vice President Walter Mondale One debate between Vice President George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
and New York Representative Geraldine Ferraro

1988 Two debates between Vice President George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
and Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis One debate between Indiana
Indiana
Senator Dan Quayle
Dan Quayle
and Texas
Texas
Senator Lloyd Bentsen

1992 Three debates among President George H. W. Bush, Arkansas
Arkansas
Governor Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
and businessman Ross Perot One debate among Vice President Dan Quayle, Tennessee
Tennessee
Senator Al Gore and former Vice Admiral of the Navy James Stockdale

1996 Two debates between President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
and former Kansas
Kansas
Senator Bob Dole One debate between Vice President Al Gore
Al Gore
and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Jack Kemp

2000 Three debates between Vice President Al Gore
Al Gore
and Texas
Texas
Governor George W. Bush One debate between Connecticut
Connecticut
Senator Joe Lieberman
Joe Lieberman
and former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney

2004 Three debates between President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry One debate between Vice President Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney
and North Carolina Senator John Edwards

2008 Three debates between Arizona
Arizona
Senator John McCain
John McCain
and Illinois
Illinois
Senator Barack Obama One debate between Alaska
Alaska
Governor Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin
and Delaware
Delaware
Senator Joe Biden

2012 Three debates between President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney One debate between Vice President Joe Biden
Joe Biden
and Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan

2016 Three debates between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton
and businessman Donald Trump One debate between Virginia
Virginia
Senator Tim Kaine
Tim Kaine
and Indiana
Indiana
Governor Mike Pence

Sponsors, locations, moderators, panelists and viewership[edit]

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
WBBM-TV
studios (Chicago, Illinois) Howard K. Smith
Howard K. Smith
of CBS Sander Vanocur
Sander Vanocur
(NBC), Charles Warren
Charles Warren
(Mutual), Stuart Novins
Stuart Novins
(CBS) 66.4 million [17]

Second debate WRC-TV
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
John Edwards
(ABC), Walter Cronkite
Walter Cronkite
(CBS), John Chancellor
John Chancellor
(NBC) News: Bob Fleming (ABC) 60.4 million

1976 First debate League of Women Voters Walnut Street Theater (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Edwin Newman
Edwin Newman
of NBC Frank Reynolds
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
Pauline Frederick
of NPR Max Frankel (NYT), Henry L. Trewitt ( Baltimore
Baltimore
Sun), Richard Valeriani (NBC) 63.9 million

Third debate Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall
Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall
at College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, Virginia) Barbara Walters
Barbara Walters
of ABC Joseph Kraft (syndicated columnist), Robert Maynard
Robert Maynard
(Washington Post), Jack Nelson (LA Times) 62.7 million

VP Debate Alley Theatre (Houston, Texas) James Hoge of the Chicago
Chicago
Sun-Times Hal Bruno (Newsweek), Marilyn Berger (NBC), Walter Mears (AP) 43.2 million

1980 First debate League of Women Voters Baltimore
Baltimore
Convention Center (Baltimore, Maryland) Bill Moyers
Bill Moyers
of PBS Carol Loomis (Fortune), Daniel Greenberg (syndicated columnist), Charles Corddry ( Baltimore
Baltimore
Sun), Lee May (LA Times), Jane Bryant Quinn (Newsweek), Soma Golden (NYT)

[19]

Second debate Public Music Hall (Cleveland, Ohio) Howard K. Smith
Howard K. Smith
of ABC Marvin Stone (U.S. News & World Report), Harry Ellis
Harry Ellis
(CSM), William Hilliard (Portland Oregonian), Barbara Walters
Barbara Walters
(ABC) 80.6 million

1984 First debate League of Women Voters Kentucky
Kentucky
Center for the Performing Arts (Louisville, Kentucky) Barbara Walters
Barbara Walters
of ABC James Wieghart (NYDN), Diane Sawyer
Diane Sawyer
(ABC), Fred Barnes (New Republic) 65.1 million [20]

Second debate Music Hall, Municipal Auditorium ( Kansas
Kansas
City, Missouri) Edwin Newman Georgie Anne Geyer Universal Press, Marvin Kalb
Marvin Kalb
(NBC), Morton Kondracke (New Republic) 67.3 million

VP debate Philadelphia
Philadelphia
Convention Hall and Civic Center (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Sander Vanocur
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
Wait Chapel
at Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, North Carolina) Jim Lehrer
Jim Lehrer
of PBS John Mashek (Atlanta Constitution), Peter Jennings
Peter Jennings
(ABC), Anne Groer (Orlando Sentinel) 65.1 million [21]

Second debate Pauley Pavilion
Pauley Pavilion
at UCLA (Los Angeles, California) Bernard Shaw of CNN Andrea Mitchell
Andrea Mitchell
(NBC), Ann Compton
Ann Compton
(ABC), Margaret Warner
Margaret Warner
(Newsweek) 67.3 million

VP debate Omaha
Omaha
Civic Auditorium (Omaha, Nebraska) Judy Woodruff
Judy Woodruff
of PBS Tom Brokaw
Tom Brokaw
(NBC), Jon Margolis ( Chicago
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
Jim Lehrer
of PBS Sander Vanocur
Sander Vanocur
(independent journalist), Ann Compton
Ann Compton
(ABC); John Mashek ( Boston
Boston
Globe) 62.4 million [22]

Second debate Robins Center
Robins Center
at University
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
Wharton Center for Performing Arts
at MSU (East Lansing, Michigan) Jim Lehrer
Jim Lehrer
of PBS Gene Gibbons (Reuters), Helen Thomas
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
Jim Lehrer
of PBS N/A 46.1 million [23]

Second debate Shiley Theater at University
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
University
of Massachusetts (Boston, Massachusetts) Jim Lehrer
Jim Lehrer
of PBS Pool coverage provided by: FOX 46.6 million [24]

VP debate Norton Center for the Arts
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
Wait Chapel
at Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, North Carolina) Jim Lehrer
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
University
of Miami (Coral Gables, Florida) Jim Lehrer
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
Gwen Ifill
of PBS Pool coverage provided by: ABC 43.5 million

Second debate Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri) Charles Gibson
Charles Gibson
of ABC Pool coverage provided by: NBC 46.7 million

Third debate Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium
Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium
at ASU (Tempe, Arizona) Bob Schieffer
Bob Schieffer
of CBS Pool coverage provided by: ABC 51.1 million

2008 First debate Commission on Presidential Debates University
University
of Mississippi (Oxford, Mississippi) Jim Lehrer
Jim Lehrer
of PBS Pool coverage provided by: CBS 52.4 million [26]

VP debate Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri) Gwen Ifill
Gwen Ifill
of PBS Pool coverage provided by: CNN 69.9 million

Second debate Belmont University (Nashville, Tennessee) Tom Brokaw
Tom Brokaw
of NBC Pool coverage provided by: CBS 63.2 million

Third debate Hofstra University (Hempstead, New York) Bob Schieffer
Bob Schieffer
of CBS Pool coverage provided by: ABC 56.5 million

2012 First debate Commission on Presidential Debates University
University
of Denver (Denver, Colorado) Jim Lehrer
Jim Lehrer
of PBS Pool coverage provided by: ABC 67.2 million [27]

VP debate Centre College (Danville, Kentucky) Martha Raddatz
Martha Raddatz
of ABC Pool coverage provided by: CNN 51.4 million

Second debate Hofstra University (Hempstead, New York) Candy Crowley
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
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
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
Anderson Cooper
of CNN
CNN
and Martha Raddatz
Martha Raddatz
of ABC Questioners: Undecided voters town-hall debate 66.5 million

Third debate Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV (Paradise, Nevada) Chris Wallace
Chris Wallace
of FOX

71.6 million

References[edit]

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

Further reading[edit]

Minow, Newton N. & LaMay, Craig L. (2008). Inside the Presidential Debates: Their Improbable Past and Promising Future. University
University
of Chicago
Chicago
Press. ISBN 978-0-226-53041-3.  Moore, John L.: Elections A to Z, Second Edition; CQ Press, Washington 2003 Patterson, Thomas E.: Views of Winners & Losers" in Graber, Doris A.: "Media Power in Politics; Congressional Quarterly
Congressional Quarterly
Inc., Washington 1990, p. 178 Rutenberg, Jim: "The Post- Debate
Debate
Contest: Swaying Perceptions"; The New York Times, 4 October 2004, p. 1

External links[edit]

Commission on Presidential Debates

Transcripts

History of Televised Presidential Debates, Museum of Broadcast Communications, Chicago Debating our Destiny on PBS
PBS
NewsHour, 2000 and 2008 programs Dumbing Down the Public: Why it Matters, commentary on language level in presidential debates, Diane Ravitch, January 15, 2001 United States presidential debates
United States presidential debates
at Curlie (based on DMOZ)

Debate
Debate
critics and activists[edit]

Open Debates, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization devoted to presidential debates A Blueprint for Fair and Open Presidential Debates in 2000, The Appleseed Citizens' Task Force on Fair Debates "The Commission on Presidential Debates' Exclusion of Vital Issues" in the 2000 debates The Citizens' Debate
Debate
Commission's proposal for 2004 debates Heads or Tails: You Lose, article on the Commission on Presidential Debates and corporate influence Election Central, the latest in common election trends, news and debates

v t e

United States presidential elections

Elections by year

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Elections by state

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.