The U.S.Presidential Debate
Live on BBC News Wednesday 15th October, 2am Alert Me
More Four, Thursday 16th October, 11pm Alert Me
Newsnight US Election Debate Special BBC2 10:30pm Alert Me
The tradition of a presidential debate dates back to when cavemen beat each other over the heads with their dinner until one of them died and the other became chief. Today, it is a far more gentlemanly sport that is broadcast to the nation and indeed the world to help us tell America who they should vote for (not the old one and the crazy woman, please).
Even Abraham Lincoln had to step in a show his stuff way back in 1858 in the famous series of seven debates with Senator Stephen Douglas for a senate seat. Douglas actually won the seat, but old Lincoln got out there and published edited texts of the debates. It proved to be very popular and led to Lincoln’s nomination for President.
Back to today though, Thursday’s debate is the grand slam of the presidential campaign, the Nadal v Federer if you will, and can determine who wins or loses the election. A famous example is the Kennedy vs Nixon debate on September 26th 1960. The young, charismatic John F. Kennedy came across like a young, charismatic stud muffin whereas Richard Nixon, who had been hospitalised earlier that month for an knee operation, looked like the smoking man from the X-Files. It is widely accepted that the advantage Kennedy gained from the televised debate gave him the narrow winning margin.
When Obama and McCain meet on Thursday it will be the third time in this campaign and with the economy in freefall, it will be even more important than previous debates. It is also the final time they will face each other before the election on November 4th.
At the moment, according to Gallup polls, Obama has a ten point lead on McCain, coming out strongly with a plan for dealing with the economic crisis. However Thursday is the chance for McCain to fight his way back, and there is no telling how the debate may change the view.
An historic election and an historic debate that is not to be missed.