On September 26, 1960, the first-ever televised presidential debate took place between Senator John F. Kennedy, the Democratic nominee, and Vice President Richard Nixon, the Republican nominee. This debate is often considered a significant turning point in American political history, as it marked the beginning of a new era in which media coverage and public image became crucial to a candidate’s success.
The debate was held at the CBS studio in Chicago, and it was moderated by Howard K. Smith. It was a historic moment, as it was the first time that presidential candidates had come face to face on national television. Millions of Americans tuned in to watch the debate, and it was estimated that more than sixty million viewers watched the live broadcast.
The debate was divided into four segments, each focusing on a different topic. The topics included domestic policy, foreign policy, the economy, and civil rights. Both candidates had prepared extensively for the debate and were well-versed on the issues.
Senator Kennedy, who was seen as the underdog in the race, came across as confident and articulate during the debate. He spoke eloquently about his vision for America and his plans for the future. He also criticized Vice President Nixon’s record on domestic and foreign policy.
Vice President Nixon, on the other hand, appeared nervous and uncomfortable during the debate. He had recently recovered from a knee injury and declined to wear makeup for the broadcast. As a result, he looked pale and haggard on camera. He also appeared to be sweating profusely under the hot studio lights and made the mistake of wearing a light black suit that blended into the background.
Despite his physical discomfort, Vice President Nixon tried to present himself as a knowledgeable and experienced leader. He emphasized his record on foreign policy and his experience as Vice President. However, his performance was marred by several blunders and mistakes.
One of the most memorable moments of the debate came when Vice President Nixon was asked about his position on the use of nuclear weapons. He gave a rambling and confusing answer, which included a reference to his experience in the Navy. This response was widely criticized in the media and was seen as a sign of his lack of preparedness for the debate.
In the end, Senator Kennedy was widely seen as the winner of the debate. His performance helped to boost his standing in the polls, and he went on to win the election in November. The debate also marked a turning point in American politics, as it showed the power of television and media in shaping public opinion.