Election 2020 First Presidential Debate

April 1, 2021
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The first nationally-televised presidential debate featured zero candidates… and two of America’s “most admired” women at center stage.

The First Televised Debate

  • 1956 presidential race: Democrat Adlai Stevenson vs. incumbent Republican President Dwight Eisenhower
  • The candidates didn’t face off against each other. Instead, two surrogates for their parties debated in a broadcast televised on CBS’s “Face the Nation” *only* 2 days before the election.
  • The surrogates, neither on the ticket, were women.

Ladies’ Night

  • Fmr. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt represented the Democrats.
  • Maine’s Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress, represented the Republicans.
  • Both women were viewed as friendly & among the “most admired” in America.
  • Opinions on who won? Mixed!

Candidates Take The Stage

  • 1960 = The first time candidates face-off on T.V.
  • Democrat Sen. John F. Kennedy vs. sitting Republican VP Richard Nixon.
  • VP Nixon appeared shortly after a recent hospitalization and an earlier campaign stop, looking “green, sallow” and in need of a shave.
  • Sen. Kennedy rested earlier in the day and looked “tan and fit” like a “matinee idol.” He went on to win the election.
“Should a presidential election turn on makeup? No, but this one did.”

Producer-director of the 1960 debate Don Hewitt, who later went on to found CBS's 60 Minutes. Vice Pres. Nixon refused makeup – and some, including Hewitt, believe it literally colored the perception of him as a candidate, making him appear less vibrant than his competitor.

Tonight's first presidential debate will take place at the Cleveland Clinic in front of a limited audience of about 75 people. The second debate is scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami, FL, and the third debate will take place on Oct. 22 in Nashville, TN. On Oct 7, the one and only vice presidential debate will be held in Salt Lake City, UT.

Here’s the history: READ MORE

Margaret Chase: BIO

Info from the first presidential debate with candidates: CLICK HERE

by Jenna Lee,