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All About Presidential Debates

A look at the history and importance of debates.

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When elections are coming up these days, its common for the presidential candidates to debate each other. Before the election, they go on TV to talk about the issues, and answer questions. This can be a good way to show the American people what each candidate thinks about important topics. The candidates use the debates to gain voters, and people can make up their own minds about who won and who lost.

These days, most people accept the debates as a normal part of an election, but that wasn’t always the case. The debates weren’t always a part of running for president.

In 1960, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon held the first major debate between presidential candidates. Before the debate, many thought that Nixon had an advantage because he had more experience radio debates and politics in general. But this debate was on TV, and Nixon didn’t look to good. He was sweating, looked tense, and blended in with the background. Kennedy, on the other hand, looked lively, confident, and stood out from the background. After this debate, Kennedy won the election against Nixon, showing how important image would be in future elections.

Modern Debates

The debates are really about getting the undecided voters. In the 2016 presidential debates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump went up against each other. Donald Trump threw insults at Clinton, who didn’t know how to handle it. Many viewers said that Trump controlled the stage with showmanship, while Clinton looked serious and professional.

This year, we don’t know whether there will be any presidential debates. Donald Trump has said he will debate his opponent Joe Biden – but some people have told Biden not to join a debate. They say Trump will lie or not behave well during the event. On the other hand, Biden’s critics say he has trouble with public speaking, and just wants to avoid debating.

Are presidential debates an important part of an election? They are just a new part of the process, but they help Americans get to know the candidates better.

Jose Backer, General Assignment Reporter, is a graduate of St. Michael's College and is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Political Science. Born and raised in Southern California, he currently resides in the Pasadena area.

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