Campaigning and governing are just two aspects that make or break a good politician. But those striving for the nation’s highest office need another skill to get elected: the art of debating. Here are a few examples of the greatest politicians based on their debates:
Known as the “Great Communicator,” some of Ronald Reagan’s most memorable political moments come from his debate performances. Reagan was widely viewed as eviscerating his opponent in 1980, President Jimmy Carter, during their debates. Reagan’s famous response to Carter’s attack on him, “They’re you go again” has been one of the defining moments in presidential debate history. The remark helped Reagan take out the effectiveness of Carter’s attack.
Like Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton was another president known for his oratory skills. Clinton’s debate performance in 1992 helped him defeat President George H.W. Bush. While Bush used generalities when talking about the economy during a town hall-style debate, Clinton gave concrete examples of the recession’s effects on him. Clinton’s answer made him more likeable and more relatable than his opponent.
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy and his opponent, Richard Nixon, were the first presidential contenders to debate each other on national television. The new medium helped propel JFK to the presidency. Kennedy’s calm, cool demeanor contrasted with Nixon’s sweatiness and nervous disposition were said to be what put JFK over the top in a tight race against the California governor.