1960 Presidential Debate Analysis

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The 1960 presidential debate is one of legendary proportions. This was one of the first times television had been used to stage such an event. A political revolution was sweeping across the United States. Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon were about to embark on one of the most intriguing events in political history. Nobody knew what the implications of such an event might be. These were unknown waters for politicians of the time. Television was a new and fast growing medium that was becoming a staple in most American homes. A historical first; the media was being criticized for a presidential victory. For the first time in history, candidates were being judged on their image, not their ideology.…show more content…
The country was just emerging from an economic recession, the Cold War was ongoing, and social services were low. These were important issues, but they were yet to be seen on the agenda. The Republican nominee was Nixon, a two term Vice Presidential incumbent. Nixon faced little problem securing the nomination. The Democratic nomination went to the lesser known Kennedy, a 14-year veteran of The Senate. Both sides had inhibitions about the debate, but were quelled for the larger picture. Kennedy was the underdog, and wanted to prove that he was not too young or Catholic to be president. Nixon also wanted to use the event as fuel for his “more experienced” stance. There were four scheduled debates. These events were planned for September 26th in Chicago, October 7th in Washington, D.C., and October 21st in New York. The two candidates spoke on October 13th as well, using a split screen technique due to geographical issues. These events turned out to be a monolithic success. There were estimates that between 65 and 75 million viewers watched any one of the four telecasts. The following is a brief synopsis of the…show more content…
Nixon was lavishly involved in foreign affairs and had a strong reputation in foreign policy; however, a devastating blow came from President Eisenhower at a press conference. When Eisenhower was asked about Nixon’s ideas that were adopted as president, he replied, “If you give me a week, I might think of one” (Friedenberg 8). The Vice President also had the image of a “political assassin,” to which he wanted to eviscerate. Posters in this era actually had an image of Nixon with the phrase “would you buy a used car from this man?” The next analysis will shed light into the debates

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