Kennedy vs. Nixon – 1st 1960 Debate

Clip from the 1st 1960 presidential debate between Senator John F. Kennedy (D-MA) and Vice President Richard Nixon (R-CA). Held on September 26, 1960, it was the first presidential debate between candidates from opposing political parties as well as the first one to be televised. It is best known not by its subject matter, but by the preparedness and physical appearance of both candidates. Television audiences thought Kennedy won the debate by a landslide, while radio audiences thought Nixon won it by a landslide. Nixon appeared emaciated, unhealthy, and awkward, while Kennedy appeared handsome, tanned and confident. Nixon was recovering from an injured knee that resulted in a recent hospital stay. He had just arrived at the studio after a strenuous campaign in which he made appearances in all 50 states, including newly admitted Alaska and Hawaii. He refused to have makeup applied to his face, and had not shaved, making his stubble clearly visible to television viewers. Kennedy on the other hand, took time to rest before the debates and his suit contrasted well against the background. In effect, Nixon's gray suit seemed to blend in with the background, especially on the era's black and white television screens.

Closed captioned for the hearing impaired.

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