Around the morning of September 26,jordan shoes 1960, John F. Kennedy was a reasonably unknown senator from Massachusetts. He was young and Catholic - neither of which helped his image - and facing off against an incumbent. But by the finish on the evening, he was a star.
It is now common understanding that with no the nation's initial televised debate - fifty years ago Sunday - Kennedy would by no means have been president. But beyond securing his presidential profession, the 60-minute duel amongst the handsome Irish-American senator and Vice President Richard Nixon fundamentally altered political campaigns, television media and America's political history.
"It's one of these uncommon points on the air jordan retrotimeline of history exactly where it is possible to say items changed really significantly - in this case, in a single evening," says Alan Schroeder, a media historian and associate professor at Northeastern University, who authored the book, Presidential Debates: Forty Years of High-Risk Television
Kennedy's aide and speech writer, Ted Sorensen remembers prepping the candidate for the large evening. They have been around the roof of their Chicago hotel, running by means of a pile of note cards, quizzing Kennedy around the probably debate topics whilst he worked on his tan. "We knew the very first televised debate was essential, but we had no idea how critical it was going to turn out," Sorensen told TIME. Following hours of practice along with a speech just before a labor union, the senator went in to take a nap.
"The story I like to tell is of when they delegated me to go wake him up," Sorensen stated. "I opened the door and peaked in and there he was, lights on, sound asleep, covered in notecards."
What occurred soon after the two candidates took the stage can be a familiar tale. Nixon, pale and underweight from a current hospitalization, appeared sickly and sweaty, although Kennedy appeared calm and confident. Because the story goes, those who listened for the debate on the radio believed Nixon had won. But those listeners had been in the minority. By 1960, 88% of American households had televisions - up from just 11% the decade ahead of. The number of viewers who tuned in for the debate has been estimated as higher as 74 million, by the Nielsen of the day, Broadcast Magazine.
These that watched the debate on Tv thought Kennedy was the clear winner. Many say Kennedy won the election that night. Sorensen says the Kennedy team didn't realize what a game changer the debate was until the following day at a campaign occasion in Ohio. "The crowds for his motorcade have been a lot larger than they'd ever been," he says. "That's when we knew that, if absolutely nothing else, Kennedy had firmed up support for himself within the Democratic celebration."
Nixon performed much much better in the subsequent debates (and appeared much better because of the "milkshake diet" his aides place him on to fatten him up). But, as Schroeder says, the harm had been completed. "You could not wipe away the image individuals had seared in their brains from the first debate."
Even Kennedy acknowledged the medium's part in his victory. On November 12, 1960, four days right after winning the election by a narrow margin, he mentioned, "It was the Television greater than anything else that turned the tide." Post-debate, candidates could no longer afford to ignore the potential power of television. "With the Nation Watching," a 1979 job force report, notes, "The Nixon-Kennedy debates made televised encounters among candidates the hottest factor in electioneering considering that the campaign button."
Up to that point, politics had not truly been played out on television. "It was really a lot an entertainment medium," says Schroeder. "It wasn't a spot for critical discourse."
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