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Debate

Debate

First televised Presidential debate which took place on September 26, 1960, with candidates Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon, broadcasted from the WBBM television studio in Chicago, Illinois.

By 1960 television was fast becoming the primary means by which to reach people.  Senator John F. Kennedy introduced a powerful new factor into American political campaigning when he challenged Vice President Richard M. Nixon to debate the issues in a series of joint television appearances.  Knowing that he was the front-runner, Nixon's advisers cautioned him against accepting the challenge, but Nixon, confident of his debating skills did so. The political confrontations that followed were the most historic since the Lincoln-Douglas debate of 1858.

Approximately 70 million Americans, at the time the largest political audience in U.S. history, watched on the night of September 26 as the candidates for the Presidency faced each other on television for the first time.