FIRST DEBATE
October 6, 1996; Hartford, Connecticut
Moderator: Jim Lehrer, PBS

Bob Dole on the attack
In the 1996 presidential election, Republican candidate Bob Dole's strategy was to attack the Clinton administration with oblique references to ethical standards. In many ways, Dole's sharp sense of humor defined his debating approach. His exchanges with Clinton were often tinged with sarcasm and thinly veiled rebuke, as in this clip.

Clinton v. Dole on illegal drugs and tobacco
Both illegal drugs and tobacco were campaign issues in 1996, with each candidate associating one of these health concerns with the other. President Clinton accused Senator Dole of being influenced by the tobacco lobby; Senator Dole blamed President Clinton for the increase in drug use among young people.

SECOND DEBATE
October 16, 1996; San Diego, California
Moderator: Jim Lehrer, PBS

Return to the Town Hall Debate
Bill Clinton's success with the informal, town-hall format in 1992 led to a similar format in his re-election campaign against Republican Senator Bob Dole. This time, however, there was no third party candidate and changes in moderator - audience interaction had been made in response to criticisms of the 1992 Richmond debates. Although toned down somewhat to fit the informal setting, Senator Dole continued his strategy of indirect references to scandal and ethical lapses within the Clinton administration.

Domestic issues addresses
Domestic issues were at the center of the 1996 presidential election in the eyes of many voters, and this was reflected in the questions asked by the audience in the town-hall debate. Issues of education, health care, taxes, drugs, tobacco, and crime dominated. But as post-election turnout figures would confirm, and as this questioner suggests, not even domestic concerns could compel most voters to go to the polls in 1996.