Incumbent President Barack Obama and Republican hopeful Mitt Romney will be meeting in Denver for their first presidential debate, getting their grip on facts and figures and also strategizing on tone and kinesics.
Since the first televised debate in 1960, presidential debates allow a civic exchange of political ideas and policies. From famous one-line zingers to gaffes, here is a look at some of the most defining debate moments in US election history.
1. Gerald Ford’s Denial
During the 1976 presidential debate against Jimmy Carter, Ford famously uttered, "There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe."
The moderator responded immediately saying, "I'm sorry, what? ... 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 stuck to the statement and refused to back down, insisting that countries such as Yugoslavia, Romania and Poland are free from any Soviet interference.
The consequences of his answer haunted him for the rest of the campaign and eventually cost him the election.
2. Reagan’s Age Issue
"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," Ronald Reagan said when asked if he, at 73, is too old to be the President.
The famous line which is also a classic example of Reagan’s sense of humor even solicited a laugh from his Democratic opponent Walter Mondale. The Republican actor-turned-politician was able to win the elections by a landslide victory.
3. Gore’s Body Language
Sometimes a candidate says it worst when he says nothing at all.
Al Gore’s endless sighing during the 2000 presidential debate against George W. Bush sparked endless mockery. As did his decision to leave the podium and come within inches of Bush trying to intimidate him. His inappropriate body language cost him the elections.
4. Dukakis’ Deadly Response on Death Penalty
Democrat nominee Mike Dukakis missed a chance to show some emotion during his 1988 presidential debate against Vice President George H.W Bush.
When asked, whether he would support the death penalty, should his wife be raped or murdered, Dukakis, a longtime opponent of death penalty, responded with an emotionless ‘No’. "No, I don't, and I think you know that I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life. I don't see any evidence that it's a deterrent and I think there are better and more effective ways to deal with violent crime."
His dispassionate and dismissive response to the question eventually ended up costing him the elections.
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