NPR logo Flashback Friday: Second Bush-Clinton- Perot Debate Is Town Hall Format

Flashback Friday: Second Bush-Clinton- Perot Debate Is Town Hall Format

Oct. 15, 1992:

Democrats jumped on the image of President Bush checking his watch during the 1992 debate. hide caption

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President George Bush, Democratic challenger Bill Clinton, and independent candidate Ross Perot hold their second of three debates, this one at the University of Richmond in Virginia.

Unlike the first debate, where the candidates stood at their lecterns and responded to questions, this was conducted in a more relaxed "town hall" format, one suggested by the Clinton campaign.  And with good reason.  Whereas in the first debate, where the consensus was that no one came out the "winner" (and Perot was quite animated), the second debate's format was seen as benefiting Clinton, the governor of Arkansas and a more relaxed and personal campaigner.  In addition, the questions were more about the state of the economy and less about foreign policy, which also played into the president's weaknesses.

Several times during the debate, Bush appeared to look at his watch — giving viewers, rightly or wrongly, the sense of his being passive, bored, or out of touch ... or just anxious for the whole thing to be over.

Flashback Friday is a weekly feature on Political Junkie.

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