Consider Sponsoring Presidential Debates"
Post, May 16, 1984; Political Notes
the spring of 1984, the Republican and Democratic parties
toyed with the idea of sponsoring the presidential debates
for that election year. In 1976 and 1980, the League of
Women Voters sponsored the presidential debates and was
planning to do so again in 1984. The question of who was
to sponsor presidential was an issue from 1960 on. One
of the issues was that how many candidates could participate.
By 1984, the FCC had amended the "equal-time" rule to
make it easier for the networks to sponsor the debates.
In response, the League of Women Voters argued that "the
parties inevitably would 'put the interests of their particular
to Lose a Debate"
Post, Oct. 7, 1984: D8; By Bob Dole
the vice-presidential candidate in 1976, Senator Robert
Dole, debated candidate Walter Mondale, who was Jimmy
Carter's running mate. This was the first vice-presidential
debate. Through the campaign season, Dole had earned a
reputation as President Gerald Ford's "hatchet man," meaning
that Dole job was to agressively attack the Carter-Mondale
record and platform. The role of "hatchet man," however,
did not translate well to television, and Dole was widely
believed to have lost the debate. In his short, self-effacing
article, Dole provided a "Top Ten" list on what not to
do in a debate. Two suggestions: "Don't perspire. You
might not believe it, but millions of people will be watching
your upper lip;" and "Don't use a hatchet. Those things
are kind of clumsy and cause self-inflicted wounds."
by a TV Camera"
Post, Oct. 11, 1984; A2; Mary McGrory
of the issues in the 1984 presidential campaign was age.
In 1984, Reagan was 73 years old. The first debate between
Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale was seen as a victory
for Mondale primarily Reagan appeared to be mentally disoriented.
The debate raised questions about Reagan mental fitness
given his age. Physically, Reagan was very fit, characterized
by his "horseback riding and wood chopping, the rosy cheeks,
the clear eyes." But McGrory noted, "Voters are slow to
change their minds. Reagan's incoherence and malaise did
not topple the two pillars of his strength: incumbency
and a recovering economy. Voters' faith may be shaken
but not, so far, their fondness." Thus, the age issue
set the stage for the second presidential debate.
Art of Vagueness"
Post, Oct. 28, 1984; K2; By Colman McCarthy
did we get out of the two presidential debates," asks
Columnist McCarthy. In most of this column, McCarthy criticizes
Ronald Reagan's ability to evade clearly answering questions.
He also criticized reporters for asking soft questions.
didn't Matter: Debate Claptrap"
Post, Oct. 31, 1984; A17