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Presidential debate 2016: Five controversial face offs in history

Here's a look at the top five presidential debates that courted controversy in US elections history.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
September 27, 2016 12:28:20 am
presidential debate, hillary clinton, donald trump, trump clinton debate, presidential debate today, us debate today, us elections 2016, barack obama, old presidential debates, presidential debates us, us presidential debate history, world news, us news, elections news People pose for a photo kneeling near a bus adorned with photos of candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump before the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead. (AP Photo)

Everyone is gearing up for the presidential debate of the US elections 2016 season between Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican Party nominee Donald Trump. The highly anticipated debate is being touted to be the most watched debate of any election season in the US.

The surprisingly tight race for the White House and the unpredictable clash in styles between well-known but polarizing foes has generated wide interest in the potentially pivotal encounter, which comes six weeks before the November 8 election.

This will be the first of three debates that are scheduled to happen between the two candidates. Both Trump and Clinton, who are historically the least liked presidential hopefuls, are hoping to eliminate the cloud of doubt surrounding them after the debate.

WATCH VIDEO: US Presidential Debate: Hillary Clinton & Donald Trump Take On Each Other

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The presidential debates, however, have hardly been without controversy. From the very official first debate in 1960 between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon till today, there has been a flurry of excitement around them. Here’s a look at the top five debates in US elections history.

1. John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, 1960


This was the first official as well as televised debate. It drew over 66 million viewers, making it one of the most watched broadcasts in the history of television. But all wasn’t smooth. The major criticism in this debate is for Richard Nixon focusing on how he chose to represent himself on national television. While Kennedy had just come back from a taxing campaign, sporting a tan, Nixon was pale and weak, having recovered from a stint at the hospital. This largely affected the debate and ended up with the viewers declaring Kennedy the winner even though radio stations vouched for Nixon saying he had an edge.

2. Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, 1976


This debate was a highlight because of a factual gaffe made by Gerald Ford, possibly owing to a lack of notes during his speech. Ford, while arguing against Carter, said that Easter Europe was no longer ruled by the communist forces. This was entirely untrue. A possible explanation for this is that Ford wanted to say that Eastern Europe — comprising Poland, East German, Czechoslovakia, Hungry, Romania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia — were no longer under the domination of the Soviet bloc which collapsed in 1991 after the cold war. However, the audience quickly concluded that the president hopeful was quite out of touch with world politics.

3. Michael Dukakis and George HW Bush, 1988


Keeping with the trend of controversial presidential debates, this time, the democratic candidate Michael Dukakis was under fire for his stand on capital punishment. The first question put to him was if his wife was raped and murdered, would he still be willing the let the criminal go without a capital punishment. Dukakis answered the question without any emotion and with a practiced smile on his face, holding on to his stand of no capital punishment and arguing that there were other ways of reforming a criminal than killing them.

4. George W. Bush and Al Gore, 2000


A controversial but light moment of the presidential debate between the Republican George W. Bush and Democract Al Gore was the use of the tactic of intimidation. Gore asked Bush whether he will be supporting the Dingle-Norwood Bill. As Bush began his answer, Gore walked up towards him, eventually standing right next to him as he answered the question. Bush, however, did not cow down to the act of intimidation and nodded at Gore while continuing to speak. The audience laughed in response.

5.  Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, 2012


As Democrat Barack Obama fought it out with Republican Mitt Romney to retain his second term in a presidential debate between the two, this time the controversy was raised by the moderator Candy Crowley. Romney asked Obama why he didn’t classify the 2012 Benghazi attack on the US diplomats in Libya as a terror attack. Even before Obama could answer, moderator Crowley interjected and said that President Obama had indeed called it a terror attack. Obama urged her to speak a little louder as the audience cheered on. He then proceeded to answer Romney himself. This act of the moderator interjecting left many displeased.

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