In 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon faced off in the first series of presidential debates in general election history, which attracted enormous public attention with an estimated two-thirds of the American population tuned-in to watch or listen. Considered one of the most significant moments in television history because of its impact on the election, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum has the debate available on its YouTube channel.
PBS news anchor Jim Lehrer is a veteran of no less than 12 presidential debates, including the latest in 2008 between then-Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain. Lehrer, who will moderate the first of three debates between President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney, discussed the differences between a televised debate versus a radio broadcast and how it affects voter perception of the candidate. (Hint: think back to 1960.)