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What not to do at presidential debates: The biggest gaffes in history

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tags: political history, presidential debates, 2020 Election



Debate season is upon us. It's an opportunity to set yourself apart from the other candidates. But it's also left a long list of presidential hopefuls, who came up short. 

Here's a list of some of the biggest mistakes in presidential history, with some help from Professor Matt Dallek from The George Washington University: 

1) Richard Nixon, 1960: This debate was the first TV debate, and showed the power of the new medium. John F. Kennedy, who was just 43 years old, looked good during the debate and made eye contact with the camera. 

Candidate Richard Nixon, on the other hand, was dealing with a number of ailments. He had recently bashed his knee on a car door, which resulted in an infection. He was also getting over the flu. For this reason, he looked drained and frail during the debate. Unlike Kennedy, Nixon was also shifting his eyes between reporters, which sent a bad message to viewers at home. 

"He fed the image of him as 'Tricky Dick,'" said Dallek. 

In the end, these mistakes proved damaging for Nixon. While those listening on the radio called it a draw, or a Nixon victory -- TV viewers decisively thought Kennedy was the victor.

It's hard to blame the Nixon campaign for failing to understand the new technology. But this still earned Nixon a spot on the top gaffes in debate history. 

Read entire article at WUSA9

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