Archived Story

Debate brings focus on 2012 election

Published 6:00am Saturday, October 6, 2012

The recent televised debate between President Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, and Governor Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, has done a few things.

The debate, as does any political debate, provided a sounding board for the candidates to answer questions, make their views known and try to get a leg up on their opponent.

The presidential election will take place on Nov. 6 next month, and I would like to encourage everyone in Franklin County to vote in the election.

It is every of-age citizens’ civic duty to vote in these elections, and voting is the best chance that most people will have to make their opinion known as to who each person believes should be president for the next four years.

Televised debates have long been a key part of every presidential election, but these did not appear until Sept. 26, 1960.

That is the date of the first presidential debate ever televised.

It featured Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard M. Nixon.

That debate was the first of four televised debates leading up to the election, and it was the first indication that image would become a huge — if not the largest — factor in each subsequent presidential election.

Kennedy was well rehearsed, he had a tan and he was well rested.

Nixon had campaigned up until the start of the debate.

He had recently been sickly after a knee injury and had lost several pounds.

He refused studio makeup for the first debate, and his stubble showed up on the black and white screens of the era.

Kennedy’s tan complexion made him stand out from the plain whiter background behind him, and Nixon’s pale countenance made him blend in to the back wall.

70 million viewers watched that first debate, and an interesting bit of information started to come forth.

Many people at the time still did not own televisions, so some of those who heard the debate did not also see it.

There were more television viewers than radio only, but the majority of that group of listeners reportedly named Nixon the winner of the debate because his answers stayed more on topic.

Those who watched the debate, for the most part, named Kennedy the winner, and his image probably had a lot to do with it.

Image is now an important part of each candidate’s campaign, be it how his or her political beliefs and agenda seems or actual physical appearance.

Whether you, the reader (assuming you are registered to vote) choose to vote for Obama or Romney, just make sure to cast that vote. Voting is a civic duty and your chance to have some say in the election.

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