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Our Favorite Debate Moments

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Our Favorite Debate Moments

Our Favorite Debate Moments

Our Favorite Debate Moments

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Hofstra University is hosting the third and final presidential debate tonight. And that gives us a good reason to look back at some memorable moments in previous presidential debates.


And on the day before the final presidential debate in this election year, a look back at some of the highlights and lowlights from debates past.

Former President JOHN F. KENNEDY: I think Mr. Nixon is an effective leader of his party. I hope he would grant me the same.

Former President RICHARD NIXON: I can only say that my experience is there for the people to consider. Senator Kennedy's is there for the people to consider.

Former President KENNEDY: The question before us is, which point of view and which party do we want to lead the United States.

Former Vice President WALTER MONDALE: Mr. Reagan after the election is going to have to propose a tax increase.

Former President RONALD REAGAN: You know, I wasn't going to say this at all, but I can't help it. There you go again.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Former President GERALD FORD: There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, and there never will be under a Ford administration.

Unidentified Male: The crew of broadcasters in Philadelphia have temporarily lost the audio. It is not a conspiracy against Governor Carter or President Ford, and they will fix it as soon as possible.

Mr. BERNARD SHAW (Moderator): Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?

Former Governor MICHAEL DUKAKIS (Former Democratic Presidential Nominee): No, I don't, Bernard, and I think you know that I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life. I don't see any evidence...

Unidentified Male: Foreign countries... Foreign Aid...

Former Vice President DAN QUAYLE: Senator, it's in your book.

Former Vice President AL GORE: No, it's not.

Former Vice President QUAYLE: On page 304, it is there.

Former Vice President GORE: No, it's not. No, it's not.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Can we focus on the issues and not the personalities and the mud?

Former President BILL CLINTON: I'm just as sick as you are by having to wake up and figure out how to defend myself every day.

Ms. CAROLE SIMPSON (Moderator): President Bush, how would you like to respond?

Former President GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Let's do it.

Mr. ROSS PEROT (Former Presidential Candidate): There will be a job-sucking sound going south. I might as well just go with the... I don't think so. You want to wait? I'm all confused now. Technically...

President GEORGE W. BUSH: I believe that younger workers aught to be able to take out some of their own money and put it into a personal savings account.

Senator JOHN KERRY (Former Democratic Presidential Nominee): That's an invitation to disaster.

Former Vice President GORE: I have a very strong record on the environment in the United States Senate.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Former Vice President ALL GORE: I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did...

Senator BOB DOLE (Former Republican Presidential Nominee): I have some age, some experience, some intelligence.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Senator DOLE: That adds up to wisdom.

President CLINTON: It's the age of his ideas that I question.

Unidentified Male: Now, if you just want to get out and raise taxes.

Mr. HAL BRUNO (Moderator): Admiral Stockdale, it's your turn to go first.

Vice Admiral JAMES STOCKDALE (Vice Presidential Nominee, Independent Party): You know, I didn't have my hearing aid turned on. Tell me again.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: Moments from televised presidential debates from 1960 to 2004. So those are past debates. What do you want to hear tonight? Do you want a specific question posed? Do you think there's anything John McCain can do to convince enough voters to choose him? Go to our blog, Hopefully, you can weigh in with some good questions and some good comments there, and hopefully your hearing aid is turned on right now.

BRAND: Stay with us on Day to Day from NPR News.

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