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Political Debates

Although various types of political campaign debates had taken place in the United States since the 18th century, it was regarded a major innovation in campaign communication when televised face-to-face debates between presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon occurred in 1960. The Kennedy/Nixon exchanges, in fact, inaugurated what has now become an institution in presidential campaign communication. Although general election debates would not happen again until the Ford/Carter encounters 16 years later, a tradition of presidential debates is now firmly established with an unbroken chain of debates occurring since 1976. Along with the public’s expectation for presidential debates, political campaign debates are indeed a common place for all levels of elective office. Among the many types of political messages, campaign debates are ...

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