A quiz on presidential debates

October 2, 2012

On Tuesday's Morning Shift, WBEZ history blogger John Schmidt recalls the first televised presidential debates, which happened right here in Chicago, and quizzes listeners on presidential debate trivia. Play the quiz below:


(A) 1960.
Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy squared off four times in 1960. That was before a vice presidential debate was added to the schedule. Those began in 1976.

(B) Ross Perot.

Perot was a Texas billionaire, running as an independent candidate against President George Bush Sr and Governor Bill Clinton. Clinton won the election. Perot got about 19% of the popular vote. Only Teddy Roosevelt in the 1912 Bull Moose campaign did better as a third-party candidate.  

(D) League of Women Voters.
The League sponsored the debates in 1976, 1980, and 1984. After that the League withdrew sponsorship, tired of trying to work with the two political parties. The debates are now run by the Commission on Presidential Debates, an organization set up by the Democratic and Republican parties.

(A) The election had been rated a tossup, but Reagan won in a landslide, cleaning up in 44 states.  

(C) Lloyd Bentsen.
Bentsen was running for VP in 1988. Opponent Dan Quayle said his own 8 years in the Senate gave him as much preparation as Jack Kennedy had when running for president in 1960—which was factually true. In the rebuttal, Bentsen hit him with the zinger. But in the election, Bush-Quayle defeated Dukakis-Bentsen.