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Biden and Trump’s Audience-Free Debate Harks Back to 1960

Daniel Kim Views  

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump had their first TV presidential debate today.

This debate was held without an audience, marking the first time in over 60 years that a U.S. presidential debate has occurred under such conditions.

The first and only time a presidential debate was held without an audience in the United States was in 1960. The discussion featured Richard Nixon, the Republican Vice President at the time, and John F. Kennedy, the Democratic candidate. This was also the first-ever televised presidential debate in the U.S. Kennedy, exuding confidence, overwhelmingly outperformed Nixon, who appeared visibly pale.

For the next 16 years, no presidential debates took place. They resumed in 1976, allowing audiences to attend. Incumbent President Gerald Ford and Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter debated in front of a live audience at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. Carter distinguished himself during the debate and went on to win the presidency.

Since then, all presidential debates have had an audience. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, then-President Trump and then-Vice President Biden held two debates in front of audiences.

This year, the Biden campaign requested a debate without an audience to avoid cheers or boos. Although the Trump campaign was reluctant about this demand, they eventually agreed to Biden’s request.

Former President Bill Clinton is renowned for effectively utilizing audience responses during debates. As the Democratic candidate in 1992, Clinton showcased his communication skills in a debate against President George H.W. Bush and independent candidate Ross Perot. He empathetically addressed questions on social issues, resonating with the audience and leading their support. Furthermore, when Bush was caught looking at his watch during the debate, public opinion shifted in favor of Clinton.

The debate between Biden and Trump was the earliest in U.S. history. Typically, the first debate is held in September, making this one approximately three months earlier than usual. The previous record for the earliest debate was set on September 21, 1980, between Ronald Reagan and John Anderson. In the last presidential election, the first debate between Biden and Trump took place on September 29, 2020.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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