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Then and Now: 1st 1960 Presidential Debate vs. 1st 2012 Presidential Debate

What do you think?

Because the guys in 1960 had spent years speaking on the radio, it seems to me they really keep their sentences tight and their rhythm unbroken while speaking. They’re pretty impressive.

On the other hand, neither candidate seems to be orchestrating their body language as we’d see now. Nixon is constantly licking his lips nervously and crossing his legs while JFK has to be told by the moderators to go up to the podium.

Many of you may know that Nixon was ill and exhausted before the 1st 1960 debate. He had also recently injured his leg.

Not realizing the significance of television (this was the first ever televised debate), Nixon didn’t bother with makeup or having his appearance manicured.

Sick and tired as he was, Nixon was visibly sweating under the stage lights. You can especially see the shininess on his chin making it kind of look like he’s drooling.

Most history books now opine that this debate lost the election for Nixon.

Obviously, one might wonder if television made short or unimposing candidates unelectable, gradually turning elections into a battle over personality and superficial appearances.

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