Kennedy-Nixon Presidential Debate - September 26 1960

Created on Sep 26, 2016 by Kathy Pinna

Exactly 56 years ago on September 26, 1960, the first ever televised Presidential debate was held between John F. Kennedy and Richard Milhous Nixon.

Radio listeners thought that Nixon had won the debate, but the 70 million television viewers (a huge number at the time) thought Kennedy had won. Seeing the candidates made a big difference and Kennedy went on to win the election by a narrow margin. In his later Presidential campaigns, Nixon refused to participate in any debates.

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The Kennedy Nixon 1960 Video Debate

Try watching and listening, then just watching with no sound, the video of Nixon and Kennedy. Does the appearance of either candidate influence your decision?

Some history on Presidential campaigns:

In the 1952 Presidential campaign, Eisenhower first made use of the "campaign ad" (created by an advertising executive) on TV. Stevenson (who ran against him) refused to participate in electronic campaigning and lost to Eisenhower - twice. With the subsequent advent of Presidential debates on television, the political electronic age was officially born. As you watch portions of the first television debate, notice two things: the poor quality of the picture on early television and the civility of the debaters.

Interesting note: Into the early 1800's, a person who campaigned for President wasn't considered worthy of the office - it was up to others to nominate a President. However, Presidential candidates did have surrogates (political friends and allies) who campaigned for them - often behind the scenes and under his direction.

Click "next page" below to see some of the people and sights of the 1960's.

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