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Talking Debates at the Dole

Last Monday, the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics hosted a discussion on presidential debates led by communications professors from the universities of Kansas and Missouri. Professors Mary Banwart, associate professor and Director of the Institute for Leadership Studies as well as Mitchell McKinney, professor and chair of the Department of Communication at the University of Missouri broke down the “10 Greatest Moments in Televised Presidential Debate History”.

Just over 100 students, staff and local Lawrencians were on hand to watch and listen-in as these professors showed clips of past debates while navigating the list in chronological order. The moments broke down as follows.

  • 1960 Presidential Debate, John F. Kennedy (D) versus Richard Nixon (R)
    • Kennedy’s charm and appearance dazzled in the first-ever televised U.S. Presidential debate. Nixon arrived late after injuring his leg earlier and was in a generally sour mood that came-off poorly to viewers and hurt him in the polls.
  • 1976 Presidential Debate, Jimmy Carter (D) versus incumbent Gerald Ford (R)
    • After no televised debates in 1964, 1968 or 1972, Gerald Ford takes himself down as he states firmly that there is no soviet influence in Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford and Dole leadership in the White House.
  • 1980 Presidential Debate, Ronald Reagan (R) versus incumbent Jimmy Carter (D)
    • Reagan’s popularity and charisma comes across well in one of the most viewed presidential debates of all time. Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan debate national healthcare at length.
  • 1984 Presidential Debate, incumbent Ronald Reagan (R) versus Walter Mondale
    • President Reagan zings Mondale with the one-liner “I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience”.
  • 1988 Presidential Debate, incumbent Vice President George H.W. Bush (R) vs Michael Dukakis (D)
    • George H.W. Bush goes on to easily win the election after he and Dukakis discuss the death penalty at length.
  • 1992 Presidential Debate, Bill Clinton (D) versus incumbent George H.W. Bush (R) versus Ross Perot (I)
    • Perot joins the major-party candidates on-stage and comes off as uninformed as he states he is “all-ears” on listening to potential solutions to problems.
  • 2000 Presidential Debate, George Bush (R) versus incumbent Vice President Al Gore (D)
    • Bush and Gore go back and forth with their respective buzzwords “fuzzy math” and “lock box”. Gore comes off as always needing the last word but the polls remained relatively even until the close election to follow.
  • 2008 Vice Presidential Debate, Joe Biden (D) versus Sarah Palin (R)
    • A calm and collected Joe Biden looks on as Sarah Palin does herself in with poorly constructed phrases and unorganized delivery.
  • 2012 Presidential Debate, incumbent Barrack Obama (D) versus Mitt Romney (R)
    • In an effort to appeal to the women voters, Mitt Romney discusses how he looked to acquire a more female staff by looking through “binders full of women”.
  • 2016 Presidential Debate, Hillary Clinton (D) versus Donald Trump (R)
    • Donald Trump dials down his usually eccentric character but Clinton makes up ground in the late debate by exposing moments of Trump’s questionable judgement from his past. Clinton receives a bump in the polls.

This recent discussion at the Dole Institute of Politics really got me excited and interested about future events the institute hosts. To be honest, this is only the third lecture I’ve seen there but they have all been quality and well attended. Furthermore, I feel you always leave the Dole with a feeling of civility and national pride for participating in something that’s such a large part of our culture.

If you’re interested in attending an event at the Dole Institute of Politics a full schedule can be found here.

This is just one of many upcoming stories to be featured on the AD ASTRA Election Special. Broadcasting November 8 live on election night, we’ll feature stories covering multiple aspects of this years election that affect the KU & Lawrence community. Be sure to tune in!