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Matters of debate: How much do you know about presidential debate history?


Test your knowledge of presidential debates from elections past.

What year was the following question asked?

“Senator, the vice president in his campaign has said that you were naive and at times immature. He has raised the question of leadership. On this issue, why do you think people should vote for you rather than the vice president?”

A) 1960 B) 1996 C) 2004

Answer: 1960. It is the first question asked on a televised debate in U.S. history. It was asked of John F. Kennedy by Bob Fleming of ABC News.

Who said?: “I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” A) Jimmy Carter B) Bob Dole C) Ronald Reagan

Answer: Ronald Reagan made the comment after a question was raised about him being the oldest president to hold o ce in U.S. history. Walter Mondale was 56 at the time and Reagan was 73. Reagan’s comment made Mondale and the audience laugh and highlighted his sense of humor.

Who said?: “Who am I? Why am I here?” A) Ronald Reagan B) James Stockdale C) Ross Perot

Answer: James Stockdale, Ross Perot’s running mate asked the question in the 1992 vice presidential debate. Stockdale, a retired Navy vice admiral who was awarded the Medal of Honor, was running as a third-party candidate. The line became the subject of ridicule and undermined Stockdale’s stature.

In 1988, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen made one of the most famous comments in vice presidential debate history when he said to Dan Quayle, “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy.”

What was Quayle’s response? A) “That was really uncalled for, senator.”B) “We’re not here to be rude.”C) “I have the same experience dealing with Congress as Kennedy.”

Answer: A. Bentsen replied to Quayle, “You are the one that was making the comparison, Senator — and I’m one who knew him well.”

Who said?: “Look, this is a man who has great numbers. He talks about numbers. I’m beginning to think not only did he invent the Internet, but he invented the calculator. It’s fuzzy math.” A) Bill Clinton B) George W. Bush C) Mitt Romney

Answer: George W. Bush made the statement in the first presidential debate of 2000 with Al Gore. The two were sharing their plans for prescription drugs for seniors.

At the beginning of the 2008 vice presidential debate, Sarah Palin asked Sen. Joe Biden, “Hey, can I call you Joe?”Biden nodded, but his response was not heard.

Did Palin call him Joe during the debate? A) Yes B) No

Answer: A, once. Late in the debate Palin said, “Say it ain’t so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again.”The rest of the debate she referred to him as Sen. Biden.

In 2008, who told Sen. Hillary Clinton, “You’re likable enough, Hillary.”A) Barack Obama B) John Edwards C) Joe Biden

Answer: Barack Obama made the comment after Clinton answered a question about her likability and said, “He’s very likable. I agree with that. I don’t think I’m that bad.”