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Great Debates: Kennedy and Nixon, October 7th, 1960 (Round #2)

 

In the first ever televised presidential debate in American history, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon faced off for an hour on CBS in front of 70 million viewers. The debate was the first of four powerful confrontations between the two candidates. So impactful were the debates between Kennedy and Nixon, that they left a void of volunteers willing to take on political opponents in front of the camera. Following the four-part series between Kennedy and Nixon, there wouldn't be another televised presidential debate until Gerald Ford agreed to debate Jimmy Carter in 1976, a full sixteen years later.  Today, we examine the second round of the debate series on October 7th 1960. Click here for the full transcript. Click here to view the debate.

 

Great Debates in American History: Kennedy vs. Nixon, September 26th 1960 (Round 1)

Today on September 26 is the 56th anniversary of a milestone in American politics: the 1960 John F. Kennedy-Richard M. Nixon nationally televised presidential campaign debates. This was the first of four debates leading up the election, which Kennedy narrowly won.  Watch the first installment here from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.

Great Debates: Buckley and Vidal, August 28th, 1968

 

The August 28th Debate!  William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal were polar opposites. Having debated a number of times beginning in 1962, their relationship culminating in 1968 with an explosive series that changed television punditry forever. Buckley and Vidal were both popular American novelists and frequent political commentators. Buckley was a renowned conservative, even starting a magazine to further the cause. And Vidal was a liberal intellectualist whose views were grounded in personal experience. Their debates have been cited as the inspiration for modern sensationalism in television political news programming. 

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates "Great Debates of 1858", August 21st - October 15th, 1858

 

Between August 21st and October 15th in 1858, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas engaged in a series of seven debates focusing on the controversial subject of slavery in the United States. The two men were vying for a spot in the US Senate as a representative from the state of Illinois. Illinois was a free state, but the future of slavery across new U.S. territories was at stake. Slavery was rapidly declining in popularity across the country and both men had distinctly different responses to the issue. 

 

The Most Famous Debate Tournament of the 20th Century: Kicking off the Vidal-Buckley Debates!

 

In August, we remember perhaps the most historical debate tournament of the 20th Century. This debate tournament featured 11 rounds of debate, over the course of one month in 1968 during the Republican and Democratic Presidential Conventions, televised on national television, featured two of the most prominent "celebrity intellectuals" of the 20th century representing the Democrats and Republicans, and what many state 'You can trace all modern political TV battles back to this one moment in 1968" or as Vidal stated "We created a monster." And recently made into a Hollywood Movie, "The Best of Enemies." While recent Presidential debates as well as televised debates in general have been criticized for growing lack of civility and personal attacks - this is not a new trend. The Vidal-Buckley debates of over 40 years ago show the more things change, the more they stay the same.