How The Nixon-kennedy Debate Changed The Globe »

 How The Nixon-kennedy Debate Changed The Globe


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Around the morning of September 26,jordan shoes 1960, John F. Kennedy was a reasonably unknown senator from Massachusetts. He was young and Catholic - neither of which helped his image - and facing off against an incumbent. But by the end of your evening, he was a star.

 It really is now typical understanding that with out the nation's first televised debate - fifty years ago Sunday - Kennedy would never have already been president. But beyond securing his presidential career, the 60-minute duel between the handsome Irish-American senator and Vice President Richard Nixon fundamentally altered political campaigns, tv media and America's political history.

 "It's 1 of these uncommon points around the air jordan retrotimeline of history where you may say items changed quite considerably - in this case, in a single night," says Alan Schroeder, a media historian and associate professor at Northeastern University, who authored the book, Presidential Debates: Forty Years of High-Risk Television

 Kennedy's aide and speech writer, Ted Sorensen remembers prepping the candidate for the significant night. They had been around the roof of their Chicago hotel, running by means of a pile of note cards, quizzing Kennedy on the likely debate topics whilst he worked on his tan. "We knew the initial televised debate was important, but we had no notion how critical it was going to turn out," Sorensen told TIME. After hours of practice as well as a speech before a labor union, the senator went in to take a nap.

 "The story I like to tell is of when they delegated me to go wake him up," Sorensen said. "I opened the door and peaked in and there he was, lights on, sound asleep, covered in notecards."

 What happened right after the two candidates took the stage is actually a familiar tale. Nixon, pale and underweight from a recent hospitalization, appeared sickly and sweaty, though Kennedy appeared calm and confident. Because the story goes, people who listened to the debate around the radio thought Nixon had won. But these listeners had been within the minority. By 1960, 88% of American households had televisions - up from just 11% the decade prior to. The amount of viewers who tuned in towards the debate has been estimated as high as 74 million, by the Nielsen with the day, Broadcast Magazine.

 These that watched the debate on Television believed Kennedy was the clear winner. Lots of say Kennedy won the election that night. Sorensen says the Kennedy team didn't comprehend what a game changer the debate was till the following day at a campaign occasion in Ohio. "The crowds for his motorcade have been significantly bigger than they'd ever been," he says. "That's when we knew that, if absolutely nothing else, Kennedy had firmed up help for himself inside the Democratic party."

 Nixon performed significantly improved within the subsequent debates (and appeared much better thanks to the "milkshake diet" his aides place him on to fatten him up). But, as Schroeder says, the damage had been completed. "You could not wipe away the image persons had seared in their brains from the 1st debate."

 Even Kennedy acknowledged the medium's role in his victory. On November 12, 1960, four days after winning the election by a narrow margin, he said, "It was the Television greater than anything else that turned the tide." Post-debate, candidates could no longer afford to ignore the possible energy of tv. "With the Nation Watching," a 1979 task force report, notes, "The Nixon-Kennedy debates produced televised encounters involving candidates the hottest issue in electioneering because the campaign button."

 As much as that point, politics had not really been played out on tv. "It was very considerably an entertainment medium," says Schroeder. "It wasn't a spot for really serious discourse."

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