Share and Share Alike. We like Shares!

Today in History: October 21, 1960 – 4th (and Final) Nixon-Kennedy Debate

The fourth and final Kennedy-Nixon debate was held on October 21, 1960.

For the final debate, the candidates met in New York City. And, like the 1st debate, both candidates were given a chance to make both opening and closing states – 8 minutes for opening and 5 minutes for closing. Differing from other debates, though, each candidate made new policy position statements, hoping to gear the topic of questions for the upcoming debates.

The topic for the last debate was foreign policy including

  • Cuba
  • US Prestige
  • Nuclear Weapons Testing
  • Treaty Banning Testing &
  • Aid to Communist-Held Countries

While Kennedy was firm in his belief that we needed to overthrow Castro while proving assistance to countries such as Poland and India, one already oppressed by Communist Soviet Union and the other in danger of falling to Communism. Nixon countered that this would make these nations pawns in the fierce battle between the USA & USSR. “We have to let them know that we want to help them … because we care for them, because we stand for freedom, because if there were no communism in the world, we would still fight poverty and misery and disease and tyranny”  (Source).

Between the 3rd and 4th debates, while Kennedy had initially been scorned for his mistake of using notes or ‘cribbing,’ polls showed that he’d actually done much better than initially thought, especially in Michigan. In this debate, “voters believed that the 4th debate was a draw, although they believed that it was the strongest performance by both Kennedy and Nixon. Overall, the knowledge of the two candidates impressed Americans of all political stripes” (Source).

Image result for 4th nixon-kennedy debate

Watch: 4th Kennedy-Nixon Debate


Share and Share Alike. We like Shares!
Share and Share Alike. We like Shares!

Today in History: October 13, 1960 – 3rd Nixon-Kennedy Debate

On October 13, 1960, Senator Kennedy and Vice President Nixon held their third of four debates. And, let me just tell you, it was next to impossible to find anything on this debate. It didn’t even show up in’s this day in history. I only found one source.

This time around, the two candidates weren’t even in the same studio – let alone the same state. Nixon was in Hollywood, while Kennedy was in New York. The panelists, even, were in a separate studio.

The topic of debate #3: Foreign Policy & US Economy including

  • Quemoy
  • Matsu
  • DDE Agricultural Programs (& Budget)
  • The Ku Klux Klan
  • Labor Disputes
  • World Prestige

The Ku Klux Klan topic actually came about because, apparently, one leader claimed that he planned to vote for Nixon. Kennedy defended Nixon, promising the American people that this in no way meant that Nixon backed, had sympathies for, or supported them in any way, shape, or form. Nixon agreed.

In another question, Kennedy was accused of backing “compulsory arbitration of labor disputes” (Source). Kennedy explained that his staff had released the press statement and he had made them retract it later that same afternoon. He went on to assure them that he did not favor such a position, though Nixon pointed out that he did at one time. Kennedy replied that: “I always have difficulty recognizing my positions when they are stated by the Vice President” (Source).

It was determined far and wide that Nixon had far a solid victory for the third debate. The reason? Republicans thought it was shameful of Kennedy to use notes in one of his responses. Kennedy had attempted to explain that he was reading “a photostat of a page from a book by Gen. Matthew Ridgeway and had written brief quotes from [President Eisenhower] and from [Secretary of State] John F. Dulles” (Source).

Nevertheless, Kennedy was hammered for days afterwards and it looked like Nixon was sure to win the election.

Watch: 3rd Kennedy-Nixon Debate

Share and Share Alike. We like Shares!
Share and Share Alike. We like Shares!

Today in History: October 7, 1960 – 2nd Nixon-Kennedy Debate


On October 7, 1960, the 2nd Nixon-Kennedy debate took place. This time, Vice President Nixon was much more prepared to face-off with the ever-popular Senator Kennedy.

Meeting in Washington D.C. for this debate, the two discussed foreign policy including:

  • The Cold War
  • Cuba
  • U-2 Spy Planes &
  • The US-Soviet Summit

Kennedy made clear in his remarks that Castro was a Communist and that Cuba had as good as given up their freedom. Although, Castro was actually a self-proclaimed Socialist. A Socialist who said that Hitler was his hero. So, who knows what he actually was. What we do know is that he sure did give President Kennedy a number of headaches in his mere 1,000 days in office. In his remarks, Kennedy also made it clear that he saw the Soviet Union was a major threat. Nixon argued that the Soviets didn’t really want a summit and didn’t really want to negotiate with the U.S. This, as we can see throughout history, was true.

Overall, “Kennedy’s strategy was to paint the Republican administration in which Nixon served as timid, indecisive, and given to poor strategizing in terms of the Cold War. Nixon, on the other hand, wanted to portray Kennedy as naïve and much too willing to compromise with the Soviets and communist Chinese” (Source).

As for the second debate, most experts saw the experienced Nixon as the winner of this round. However, analysts believe that Kennedy’s telegenic TV appearance swayed voters.

But, there was still two more debates to go before the November election.

Image result for 1960 election debate


Watch: 2nd Nixon-Kennedy Debate

Share and Share Alike. We like Shares!
Share and Share Alike. We like Shares!

Today in History: September 26, 1960 – First Televised Presidential Debates


I’m not sure why these Today in History posts have a tendency to be the same subject. It certainly isn’t planned that way . . . except that I’m trying really hard to write all History Series posts in chronological order. And, well, this showed up on both and The American Presidency Project. (If it’s any consolation, tomorrow is a major WWII event).


Anyways, on September 26, 1960, the first ever televised presidential candidates debate took place. And given the date, we can guess that this debate occurred between Vice President Nixon and Senator Kennedy. It was the first of 4 debates between the two.

Meeting in Chicago for the debates, the two discussed domestic issues including:

  • Health Care
  • U.S. Economy
  • Labor
  • The Cold War
  • Education &
  • Farming

Additionally, “both candidates gave an eight-minute opening and a three-minute closing” (Source).

According to those who listened to the debate on the radio, Nixon with his 8 years of VP experience easily won the debate. However, according to those who watched it on TV, the relaxed and charismatic, yet less experienced, Kennedy handily won it.

This was a major turning point in American politics. See, prior to this, Americans rarely had the opportunity to see and hear presidential aspirants – except maybe on the radio. For poor Nixon, this was a big kick to his ego. Not to mention his career. At least for a time. After his four debates with Kennedy, he never agreed to another debate again. Neither, in fact, did President Lyndon Johnson. Actually, there was not another presidential debate until 1976 – this time between Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.

But, for the time being, both candidates came away knowing that they would have to work hard and prepare for the following debate, which was to take place on October 7th.

Image result for 1st Nixon-Kennedy Debate


Watch: 1st Nixon-Kennedy Debate

Share and Share Alike. We like Shares!