October 11, 1992; St. Louis, Missouri
Moderator: Jim Lehrer, PBS

Ross Perot on his candidacy
For the first time, a third-party candidate participated in the general election debates with both the major party candidates. In response to the first question of the debate, Independent candidate Ross Perot explained what distinguished his candidacy from that of Democrat Bill Clinton and Republican incumbent George Bush.

Ross Perot becomes a factor
Third party candidate Ross Perot was a Texas businessman and billionaire. His self-financed campaign for the presidency had gained substantial public support through its folksy, commonsense approach to solving problems like the national budget deficit and federal government gridlock, both of which were major election year issues in 1992. Perot's participation in the debates added a measure of spontaneity as well. One Washington Post writer even noted that Perot's performance in the St. Louis debate was "sort of like Gabby Hayes in an old Roy Rogers western."

Clinton v. Bush: A Question of Character
During the campaign and in the debate, President Bush raised questions about Bill Clinton's character and his activities as a Viet Nam War protestor. Bill Clinton responded wiith reference to George Bush's father's stand against McCarthyism.

October 15, 1992; Richmond, Virginia
Moderator: Carole Simpson, ABC News

Town Hall Debate part 1
Notable for its unprecedented format, this debate featured an informal, town-hall format. After the debate, moderator Carole Simpson received some criticism for her handling of the audience and candidates.

Town Hall Debate part 2
Arguably, the format of the second debate had an influence on how well the candidates performed. Democratic candidate Bill Clinton performed well in the informal setting. Republican president George Bush, however, was less assured, as illustrated by his exchange with a young woman who wondered how the budget deficit had effected the three candidates personally.

October 19, 1992; East Lansing, Michigan
Moderator: Jim Lehrer, PBS

Bush's last stand
The third and final debate in East Lansing, Michigan represented President George Bush's last chance to make an impression to a nationwide audience. Trailing badly in the polls, Bush took the offensive in the debate by tenaciously challenging Clinton's record as Arkansas Governor. The resulting exchanges had more spark than the previous debates.