"Surviving on Sound Bites"

Washington Post, Oct 23, 1996; A23. By David S. Broder  

In this Broder column devoted to a 1996 gathering at the Reagan Library, Broder related the insights provided by many of the people involved in presidential debates over the years, particularly the Kennedy-Nixon debates of 1960. Broder noted that many of those involved did not realize at the time the significance of the event. Broder also related a number of suggestions made to improve the debates beyond simply making them a forum for sound bites and scripted commentary.


"Why Perot Wasn't Invited to Debate"

Washington Post, Oct. 18, 1996; A27. By Lewis K. Loss  

Although Ross Perot had been a participant in the 1992 presidential debates as a third party candidate, he did not participate in the 1996 debates. As general counsel to the Commission on Presidential Debates, which sponsored the 1996 encounters between Clinton and Dole, Loss explained in this essay why the CPD felt compelled to deny Perot participation. Loss outlined the reasons behind the CPD's decision, noting that the CPD's approach to third party requests "is capable of logical and consistent application by rational minds." The issue of third party inclusion is one that is not easily solved.


"No Debate About It: TV Analysts Say Clinton's a Winner"

Washington Post, Oct. 18, 1996; D01. By Howard Kurtz  


"Dole Assails Clinton for 'Ethical Failures': Republican's Attack Is Strongest to Date"

Washington Post, Oct. 16, 1996; A01; By Edward Walsh  

This front page news article reported on statements made by Bob Dole, Republican presidential candidate, that characterized Bill Clinton's administration as unethical. Dole's comments were made the day before his last debate with Clinton. Trailing badly in the polls, Dole made ethics an issue in his two debates with Clinton.


"The New Spin on Spin: Instant Interviews, Polls"

Washington Post, Oct. 8, 1996; A07. By Howard Kurtz  

Increasingly, much of the news coverage surrounding presidential debates focuses on the nature of that coverage. In his assessment of public perceptions of the first debate between Dole and Clinton, Kurtz noted, "In the annals of spin, that dizzying ritual that follows every presidential debate, this was a new indoor record."


"With 'Zingers,' Dole Tactic is Polite Aggression"

Washington Post, Oct. 7, 1996; A01. By David Maraniss  

During his run as a vice presidential candidate on Gerald Ford's ticket in 1976, Bob Dole had earned a reputation as a "hatchet man," a label that describes an aggressive, almost angry tone. Throughout the 1996 presidential campaign, Dole sought to limit this public perception. In the first of his two debates with Bill Clinton, Dole had the challenge of balancing his attacks against Clinton and his administration without being seen as unnecessarily mean. One way to achieve this was through sarcastic humor, of which Dole had lot. Nonetheless, Clinton was perceived to have handled Dole's "zingers" quite well, and despite his efforts to soften his image, focus groups watching the debate retained their negative associations.