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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Awkward, Cringe worthy US Political Debate Moments in History

With the first 2012 Presidential Debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney just concluded, we now hear pundits left and right analyzing it to bits for all its worth and for all the news media prime time mileage it can muster. Of course, due to public demand, much attention will be focused on awkward or cringe worthy debate moments- sadly more than the meat of the discussions itself. Unfortunately, these  moments tend to have the most historical staying power which at the same time are those that the candidates wish never happened. Below are some of these notable debate moments from  presidential, primary and off-year elections:

Richard Nixon's Sweat

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Vice President Richard M. Nixon
 during a televised debates with Sen. John F. Kennedy in 1960
The best place to start is of course the first televised 1960 debate between Sen. John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon- the first time two candidates squared off on live television watched by more than 77 million people (2/3 of the adult population at the time). The problem for Nixon was actually more on the visuals than what he uttered- he appeared to be gaunt and dripping with sweat on the debate.Understandably so coming from a  12-day hospital confinement for a knee operation and a staph infection for which he lost weight and unfortunately prepped in ill-fitting clothes.

Lloyd Bentsen's 'You're No Jack Kennedy'

"Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."
At the 1988 vice presidential debate, then Sen. Bentsen and his opponent, Dan Quayle, were asked what plan they had in mind if they were to become president. "I have far more experience than many others that sought the office of vice president of this country," Quayle responded. "I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency." Quayle often compared himself to Kennedy. But this time, Bentsen didn't let him get away with the comparison. "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy." Bentsen's quip received a loud applause.

Rick Perry's 'Oops'

Rick Perry Says God Will Forgive ‘Oops’ Moment
Rick Perry forgot one of three federal agencies he'd do away with and flailed about during a Republican primary debate in November. The third agency Perry couldn't think of was the Department of Energy, which he rails against on the stump nearly every day.
"Seriously?" CNBC moderator John Harwood pressed Perry during the debate. "But you can't name the third one?" 
"The third agency of government I would do away with - the education, the uh, the commerce and let's see," Perry said. "I can't — the third one. I can't. Sorry. Oops."
Perry plummeted in the polls shortly following his on-stage brain freeze. The Texas governor ended his presidential campaign two months later.

George H.W. Bush's Impatience

Impatient George Sr. vs Bill Clinton
Faced with a weak economy and a personable challenger in the face of Bill Clinton, Bush who was running for a second term had a tough time holding his ground. This was made worse in the second presidential debate with Bill Clinton and Ross Perot in 1992. When asked by an audience member how the recession had personally affected him, Bush tucked his suit, checked his watch and gave a lengthy answer that failed to answer the question directly. Bush's move was widely panned as a sign of boredom and impatience with a question that weighed heavily on Americans' minds. Already criticized for his lack of action on the economy, the hoopla surrounding that moment did not serve his candidacy well.  Bush lost to Clinton.

Barack Obama's 'You're Likable Enough Hillary'

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama shared an awkward moment during a 2008 debate when facing a question about Clinton's likability. Clinton was asked what she would say to voters of New Hampshire, who liked her resume but seemed to think Obama was more likable. "Well, that hurts my feelings," a seemingly embarrassed Clinton responded to laughter. "But I'll try to go on. "He's very likable," Clinton continued. "I agree with that. I don't think I'm that bad." As Clinton fumbled, Obama looked up from his paper and interjected, "You're likable enough, Hillary," then promptly continued to write away. "I appreciate that," a laughing Clinton responded.

Obama defeated Clinton to become the 44th president.

John Edwards' 'You Have a Gay Daughter'

Edwards to Cheney: You Have a Gay Daughter
The 2004 debate between the fiery Dick Cheney against young, personable John Edwards was full of drama. The pinnacle came when the two were questioned about gay marriage. Cheney, who has a lesbian daughter, said he didn't agree with the Bush administration's plans to impose a ban on gay marriage but said he would stand by his president on the issue. He didn't mention his daughter and he avoided mentioning her during most of the campaign. Edwards, however, did not hold back. "I think the vice president and his wife love their daughter. I think they love her very much. And you can't have anything but respect for the fact that they're willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter, the fact that they embrace her. It's a wonderful thing. And there are millions of parents like that who love their children, who want their children to be happy," Edwards responded.

Cheney later wrote that he was angry and furious at Edwards and presidential John Kerry for raising the issue of his daughter's sexuality.

from "The 12 Most Cringe-Worthy Debate Moments in History"  By Z. BYRON WOLF | ABC OTUS News

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