Inside and outside of Oakland

Televised presidential debates: How important are they?

  How important are televised debates in this year's presidential election?
  The conventional scuttlebutt going around is that Republican Mitt Romney will have to score some big blows in the presidential debates this month if he hopes to defeat President Barack Obama Nov. 6. The first televised debate is Wednesday night.
  However, a video from Buzz60 by Jay DeDapper suggests that televised debates seldom change the course of an election, but listed what he feels are three moments in debate history that did.

  One would be the 1980 faceoff between Ronald Reagan and President Jimmy Carter in which Reagan chided the then-president with the phrase, "There you go again."
  Another was four years earlier in 1976 when Carter was debating then-President Ford and Ford asserted that there was no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and never would be. Carter won, setting up the election match with Reagan four years later.
  And the third was in 1988 when Democrat Mike Dukakis gave an unemotional response when asked if he would favor an irrevocable death penalty if his own wife was raped and murdered. Republican George H.W. Bush went on to win that election.
  There are a couple of other possible game-changing moments in televised debate history.
  One was more than 50 years ago in 1960 in the first-ever televised debates. Democrat John F. Kennedy appeared tanned and rested in the first of four debates while Republican Richard Nixon appeared without makeup, looking tired and showing a stubble of whiskers. Kennedy went on to win the election even though two of the three later debates were thought to have been won by Nixon.

  But an even more recent game-changing televised debate occurred last November at Oakland University in Rochester Hills/Auburn Hills in a multi-candidate debate between the Republicans seeking the presidential nomination.
  At that debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry stumbled over an answer about which three federal government departments he would cut.

  Perry folded his campaign in shortly afterwards. Without such a moment, he may have been the GOP nominee in the race against President Obama this fall -- and preparing to debate.

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