Political Buzz June 13, 2011: Michele Bachmann Wins Second Republican Debate & Officially Announces Presidential Bid

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

Cheryl Senter for The New York Times

Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty and Herman Cain at the debate

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • Live Blogging the G.O.P. Debate in New HampshireNYT, 6-13-11
  • Live blogging GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire: We are live blogging tonight’s GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire, being held at Saint Anselm College. Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum are participating.
    The two-hour debate is sponsored by CNN, WMUR and The Union Leader. CNN’s John King is the moderator…. – USA Today, 6-13
  • Factbox: Republican White House contenders in 2012Reuters, 6-13-11
  • Fact Checking the Republican Debate: As they debated the economic downturn and health care, the Republican candidates who faced off Monday night in New Hampshire sometimes let spin run ahead of the facts…. – NYT, 6-13-11
  • The top five takeaways from the GOP debate: After two hours of talk and lots of interruptions from a moderator, here are the five things you need to know from tonight’s GOP debate:
    1. Bottom line: This debate was about Barack Obama: There was a lot of speculation going in that the candidates would start slugging it out with one another to break out of the pack. Not tonight. It was Republicans United vs. Obama. Here’s a sample of what they said about the President: “He’s failed at a time when the American people counted on him to create jobs and get the economy growing.” (Mitt Romney) “The Obama administration is an anti-jobs, anti-business, anti-American energy destructive force.” (Newt Gingrich) “Just make no mistake about it. I want to announce tonight. President Obama is a one-term president.” (Michele Bachmann)
    2. Mitt Romney maintains his status
    3. Tim Pawlenty blinked
    4. America, Meet Michele Bachmann
    5. The other candidates did what they could –
    CBS News, 6-13-11
  • E.J. Dionne Jr: GOP debate winner: Michele Bachmann: I didn’t expect to think that Michele Bachmann would be the big winner of tonight’s Republican debate in New Hampshire, but that seemed the obvious conclusion. She was at ease and forceful without looking at all crazy or out-of-control. It’s a sign of how far to the right the Republican Party has moved that she didn’t stand out for her extreme views. On this stage, suggesting we should just rid ourselves of the Environmental Protection Agency seemed par for the course.
    Mitt Romney did not lose anything tonight, which means that, since he leads in the polls in New Hampshire, he is a kind of winner. And on substance, his forceful defense of religious liberty was actually a high point. I agree with a view that is becoming widespread on the web – Chris Cillizza and Jennifer Rubin made this point in their winner-and-losers wrap-ups – that it was strange or timid for Tim Pawlenty not to be willing to back up his Sunday attack on “Obamneycare” with any force tonight. Either you want to take that fight on or you don’t…. – WaPo, 6-13-11
  • Bachmann stands out in CNN debate: During tonight’s presidential candidate debate, CNN moderator John King posed a series of “this or that” questions to the candidates. These “Coke or Pepsi,” type questions were light moments in a debate that also presented voters with a lot of “this or that” choices among the candidates….
    Overall: It comes down to Romney or Bachmann. He’s still the front-runner and didn’t hurt himself. That’s enough for some to declare him the winner. But Bachmann had far more to gain from this debate in introducing herself to voters and she took full advantage of the chance. She’s the winner. – Des Moines Register, 6-13-11
  • The Mitt and Michele Show: Romney showed front-runner status, while Bachmann proved she belonged on stage. Mark McKinnon on why they shone-and the rest of the debaters flopped Monday night.
    The two clear winners in the GOP debate hosted Monday night in New Hampshire were former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. Political debates are all about expectations. Mitt Romney had more than anyone to lose. Michele Bachmann had more than anyone to gain. Romney deftly fended off attacks particularly on health care, and Bachmann proved she’s smart and credible, and has every right to be on the stage…. – The Daily Beast, 6-13-11
  • Republican presidential candidates attend first debate: The leading contenders for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination appeared together onstage for the first time Monday. But they used the debate to train their fire on President Obama rather than to define their differences.
    Given opportunities to critique one another’s stances, the seven competitors repeatedly deflected the questions during the first hour to attacks on the president….
    The biggest surprise of the evening was the announcement by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) that she has filed the paperwork to begin her campaign. She had previously indicated that she would not make a formal announcement until later this month.
    The debate, held at St. Anselm College, was officially the second of the primary campaign season. But only five candidates showed up last month in South Carolina, and with the exception of Pawlenty, they were all long-shots.
    Monday’s forum included nearly all the leading candidates. But most of them remain largely unknown nationally, a factor that could explain their reluctance to go at one another. At this early stage, they are introducing themselves to a nationwide audience, and testing their competitors’ strengths and vulnerabilities.
    It is a Republican field unlike any other in generations, in which none of the contenders has been able to establish himself or herself as an overwhelming favorite. In the normal order of things, Romney would hold that poll position, by virtue of his organization, his fundraising network and the exposure he received from his 2008 run for the nomination…. – WaPo, 6-13-11
  • 7 in G.O.P. Square Off, 7 Months From First Vote: Opening a new phase in a race that is unusually unsettled for a party once famous for its discipline, seven Republican presidential candidates met Monday night in their highest profile opportunity yet to begin drawing distinctions among themselves even as they united to press the attack against President Obama.
    With the economy wavering and conservatives energized, Republicans see an opportunity to capitalize on the sense that the nation is on the wrong track. But with seven months remaining before the first votes of the nominating contest are cast, the candidates sought to show that they were both electable and ideologically acceptable to primary voters.
    The spotlight was trained squarely on Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, whose appearance here amounted to his debut on the stage four years after losing his first bid for the party’s nomination. He sought to press his business credentials, arguing that he was the strongest nominee to promote a message of economic revival and job creation, but he worked to deflect conservative criticism over the state health care plan he signed that resembles the national one signed into law by Mr. Obama…. – NYT, 6-13-11
  • U.S. Republicans blast Obama, not each other: The Republican White House contenders focused their attacks on President Barack Obama and refrained from attacking each other on Monday in their first major debate of the 2012 nominating race.
    The Republicans criticized Obama as a failure on the economy and attacked his healthcare overhaul as a gross government intrusion, but sidestepped numerous chances to hit their party rivals in the face-to-face encounter.
    “This president has failed, and he’s failed at a time when the American people counted on him to create jobs and get the economy growing,” said former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who leads the Republican pack in opinion polls…. – Reuters, 6-13-11
  • GOP contenders to meet in New Hampshire debate Republican voters get a chance to compare Romney with six rivals: It’s a coming-out party of sorts for the apparent Republican frontrunner, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who will be participating in his first debate of this campaign season (several candidates debated in South Carolina in May).
    Romney will have his first chance to spar onstage with his rivals, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, ex-Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain, and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, the only woman in the race and a champion of the Tea Party movement.
    Former ambassador to China and Utah governor Jon Huntsman is not taking part in the debate, but is expected to formally announce his candidacy within days…. – MSNBC, 6-13-11
  • Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney: “This president has failed. And he’s failed at a time when the American people counted on him to create jobs and get the economy growing. And instead of doing that, he delegated the stimulus to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and then he did what he wanted to do: card-check, cap-and-trade, Obamacare, re-regulation.”
  • Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty: “This president is a declinist. He views America as one of equals around the world. We’re not the same as Portugal; we’re not the same as Argentina. And this idea that we can’t have 5 percent growth in America is hogwash.”
  • Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann: “Unlike how the media has tried to wrongly and grossly portray the Tea Party, the Tea Party is really made up of disaffected Democrats, independents, people who’ve never been political a day in their life, people who are libertarians, Republicans — it’s a wide swathe of America coming together.”
  • Former pizza executive Herman Cain: “This economy is stalled. It’s like a train on the tracks with no engine and the administration has simply been putting all of this money in the caboose. We need an engine called the private sector.”

    Michele Bachmann Announces Candidacy for President: Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota interrupted her answer to a question at a Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire to announce that she had filed papers on Monday to formally declare her candidacy for the Republican nomination for president.

  • Michele Bachmann enters presidential race: Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, an outspoken Republican with close ties to the tea party, announced Monday that she is running for president, a candidacy that could further shake up a volatile fight for the GOP nomination.
    The first female contender to enter the 2012 race, Bachmann announced her bid during a Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire. The third-term Minnesota congresswoman has been leaning heavily toward a run over the past few months, visiting early primary states, raising money and railing against President Barack Obama.
    “We cannot risk giving President Obama four more years to dismantle our nation. We must act now,” Bachmann said in a fundraising letter sent within an hour of her entrance. “That’s why I’ve made the decision to get in this race.”
    She brings high energy, charisma and proven fundraising ability to the race to nominate a Republican challenger to Obama. She also is known for unyielding stances, biting commentary and high-profile gaffes.
    Bachmann is attempting the rare leap from the U.S. House to the presidency…. – AP, 6-13-11
  • Bachmann confirms presidential candidacy: U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann ended any doubt that she is running for president, saying during Monday night’s CNN GOP presidential debate that she has filed for the 2012 race.
    “I filed … my paperwork to seek the office of the presidency of the United States today, and I’ll very soon be making my formal announcement,” Bachmann said shortly after the start of the debate in Manchester, New Hampshire.
    Bachmann, of Minnesota, became the seventh Republican — and the only woman — to confirm her candidacy. She was the only one of the debate’s seven participants who hadn’t formally declared before the start of Monday’s event at Saint Anselm College’s Sullivan Arena.
    Her campaign also posted a YouTube video in which she announced she was running. “This is the first day of taking our country back,” Bachmann said in the video.
    A third-term congresswoman, Bachmann is a favorite of the conservative Tea Party movement, founder of the 50-member House Tea Party Caucus and fiery critic of the Obama administration…. – CNN, 6-13-11
  • Michele Bachmann uses GOP debate to announce presidential candidacy: Rep. Michele Bachmann used the first major presidential debate of the 2012 campaign to announce that she is formally running for president.
    For Bachmann, the conservative from Minnesota, the announcement was expected, but the timing of it was not. She had been expected to declare later in the month in Iowa.
    But early in the debate in Manchester, N.H., live on CNN, Bachmann said that she had filed her paperwork Monday with the Federal Election Commission to launch a presidential fundraising committee.
    She said she would soon make a public announcement. CNN’s John King, a bit flustered, quickly pushed Bachmann to return to addressing the debate topic at hand.
    Bachmann, 55, has served in the House since 2007. A former tax attorney, she’s popular among “tea party” activists. At present, she is the only woman in the GOP field.
    She also appeals to social conservatives. The mother of five, she has also served as foster parent to 23 other children…. – LAT, 6-13-11

Political Buzz June 13, 2011: Republican Presidential Candidates Debate in New Hampshire

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

Cheryl Senter for The New York Times

Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty and Herman Cain at the debate

View Photo Gallery —  Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul face-off in the first 2012 presidential debate.

  • Live Blogging the G.O.P. Debate in New HampshireNYT, 6-13-11
  • Live blogging GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire: We are live blogging tonight’s GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire, being held at Saint Anselm College. Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum are participating.
    The two-hour debate is sponsored by CNN, WMUR and The Union Leader. CNN’s John King is the moderator…. – USA Today, 6-13
  • Factbox: Republican White House contenders in 2012Reuters, 6-13-11
  • Fact Checking the Republican Debate: As they debated the economic downturn and health care, the Republican candidates who faced off Monday night in New Hampshire sometimes let spin run ahead of the facts…. – NYT, 6-13-11
  • Republican presidential candidates attend first debate: The leading contenders for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination appeared together onstage for the first time Monday. But they used the debate to train their fire on President Obama rather than to define their differences.
    Given opportunities to critique one another’s stances, the seven competitors repeatedly deflected the questions during the first hour to attacks on the president….
    The biggest surprise of the evening was the announcement by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) that she has filed the paperwork to begin her campaign. She had previously indicated that she would not make a formal announcement until later this month.
    The debate, held at St. Anselm College, was officially the second of the primary campaign season. But only five candidates showed up last month in South Carolina, and with the exception of Pawlenty, they were all long-shots.
    Monday’s forum included nearly all the leading candidates. But most of them remain largely unknown nationally, a factor that could explain their reluctance to go at one another. At this early stage, they are introducing themselves to a nationwide audience, and testing their competitors’ strengths and vulnerabilities.
    It is a Republican field unlike any other in generations, in which none of the contenders has been able to establish himself or herself as an overwhelming favorite. In the normal order of things, Romney would hold that poll position, by virtue of his organization, his fundraising network and the exposure he received from his 2008 run for the nomination…. – WaPo, 6-13-11
  • 7 in G.O.P. Square Off, 7 Months From First Vote: Opening a new phase in a race that is unusually unsettled for a party once famous for its discipline, seven Republican presidential candidates met Monday night in their highest profile opportunity yet to begin drawing distinctions among themselves even as they united to press the attack against President Obama.
    With the economy wavering and conservatives energized, Republicans see an opportunity to capitalize on the sense that the nation is on the wrong track. But with seven months remaining before the first votes of the nominating contest are cast, the candidates sought to show that they were both electable and ideologically acceptable to primary voters.
    The spotlight was trained squarely on Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, whose appearance here amounted to his debut on the stage four years after losing his first bid for the party’s nomination. He sought to press his business credentials, arguing that he was the strongest nominee to promote a message of economic revival and job creation, but he worked to deflect conservative criticism over the state health care plan he signed that resembles the national one signed into law by Mr. Obama…. – NYT, 6-13-11
  • U.S. Republicans blast Obama, not each other: The Republican White House contenders focused their attacks on President Barack Obama and refrained from attacking each other on Monday in their first major debate of the 2012 nominating race.
    The Republicans criticized Obama as a failure on the economy and attacked his healthcare overhaul as a gross government intrusion, but sidestepped numerous chances to hit their party rivals in the face-to-face encounter.
    “This president has failed, and he’s failed at a time when the American people counted on him to create jobs and get the economy growing,” said former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who leads the Republican pack in opinion polls…. – Reuters, 6-13-11
  • GOP contenders to meet in New Hampshire debate Republican voters get a chance to compare Romney with six rivals: It’s a coming-out party of sorts for the apparent Republican frontrunner, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who will be participating in his first debate of this campaign season (several candidates debated in South Carolina in May).
    Romney will have his first chance to spar onstage with his rivals, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, ex-Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain, and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, the only woman in the race and a champion of the Tea Party movement.
    Former ambassador to China and Utah governor Jon Huntsman is not taking part in the debate, but is expected to formally announce his candidacy within days…. – MSNBC, 6-13-11
  • Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney: “This president has failed. And he’s failed at a time when the American people counted on him to create jobs and get the economy growing. And instead of doing that, he delegated the stimulus to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and then he did what he wanted to do: card-check, cap-and-trade, Obamacare, re-regulation.”
  • Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty: “This president is a declinist. He views America as one of equals around the world. We’re not the same as Portugal; we’re not the same as Argentina. And this idea that we can’t have 5 percent growth in America is hogwash.”
  • Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann: “Unlike how the media has tried to wrongly and grossly portray the Tea Party, the Tea Party is really made up of disaffected Democrats, independents, people who’ve never been political a day in their life, people who are libertarians, Republicans — it’s a wide swathe of America coming together.”
  • Former pizza executive Herman Cain: “This economy is stalled. It’s like a train on the tracks with no engine and the administration has simply been putting all of this money in the caboose. We need an engine called the private sector.”

Campaign 2004: The Third Bush/Kerry Debate: Highlights

HISTORY ARTICLES

HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

HNN, 10-14-04

The Third Bush/Kerry Debate: Highlights

By Bonnie Goodman

Ms. Goodman is a graduate student at Concordia University and an HNN intern

The Instant Polls

  • CNN-USA Today Gallup poll: John Kerry the winner 53 percent to George Bush’s 39 percent.
  • ABC News poll: 42 percent called Kerry the winner, 41 percent said Bush won; 14 per cent called it a tie.
  • Reuters/Zogby Poll: Bush has a one point lead 46-45 percent on Kerry in the campaign poll released Thursday, taken prior to the third debate.

Candidate Soundbites

John F. Kerry

  • “When the president had an opportunity to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, he took his focus off of him, outsourced the job to Afghan warlords and Osama bin Laden escaped. Six months after he said Osama bin Laden must be caught dead or alive this president was asked, where’s Osama bin Laden? And he said, ‘I don’t know. I don’t really think him about very much. I’m not that concerned.’ We need a president who stays deadly focused on the real war on terror.
  • “The president has turned his back on the wellness of America, and there is no system and it’s starting to fall apart.”
  • “He’s the only president in 72 years to have lost jobs — 1.6 million jobs lost.”
  • ” He’s the only president to have incomes of families go down. The only president to see exports go down; the only president to see the lowest level of business investment in our country as it is today. Now I’m going to reverse that. I’m going to change that. We’re going to restore the fiscal discipline we had in the 1990s.”
  • “We’re all God’s children, Bob, and I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney’s daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she’s being who she was.”
  • “I believe that choice, a woman’s choice is between a woman, God and her doctor.”
  • “If we raise the minimum wage, which I will do over several years, to $7 an hour, 9.2 million women who are trying to raise their families would earn another $3,800 a year. The president has denied 9.2 million women $3,800 a year. But he doesn’t hesitate to fight for $136,000 to a millionaire.”
  • “Being lectured to by the president on fiscal sanity is kind of like being lectured to by Tony Soprano on law and order.”
  • “I regret to say that the president who called himself a uniter, not a divider, is now presiding over the most divided America in the recent memory of our country. I’ve never seen such ideological squabbles in the Congress of the United States. I’ve never seen members of a party locked out of meetings the way they’re locked out today ·Well, I guess the president and you and I are three examples of lucky people who married up. And some would say maybe me more so than others. But I can take it.”

George W. Bush

  • “My opponent just this weekend talked about how terrorism could be reduced to a nuisance, comparing it to prostitution, illegal gambling, I think that attitude and that point of view is dangerous.”
  • “If every family in America signed up it would cost the federal government $5 trillion over 10 years. It’s an empty promise. It’s called bait-and-switch.”
  • “Well his rhetoric doesn’t match his record. He’s been a senator for 20 years, he voted to increase taxes 98 times. When they’d try to reduce taxes he voted against that 127 times. He talks about being a fiscal conservative or fiscally sound but he voted 277 times to waive the budget caps, which would have cost the taxpayers $4.2 trillion. He talks about pay-go. I’ll tell you what pay-go
    means: when you’re a senator from Massachusetts, when you’re a colleague of Ted Kennedy, pay-go means you pay and he goes ahead and spends.”
  • “There’s a mainstream in American politics and you sit right on the far left bank. Your record is such that Ted Kennedy, your colleague, is the conservative senator from Massachusetts.”
  • “What he’s asking me is will I have a litmus test for my judges. And the answer is no, I will not have a litmus test. I will pick judges who will interpret the Constitution. But I’ll have no litmus tests.”
  • “Well first of all it’s – it is just not true that I haven’t met with the Black Congressional Caucus. I’ve met with the Black Congressional Caucus at the White House.”
  • “To listen to them. To stand up straight and not scowl. I love the strong women around me. I can’t tell you how much I love my wife and our daughters.”

Historians’ Comments

Gil Troy (presidential historian, professor of history, McGill University)

  • “The real winner of the debates was… the American people. I know it’s cheesy and a tad cliche, but during these times, when nerves are frayed and the conventional wisdom once again deems the campaign the ‘nastiest ever,’ I was impressed by the debates’ civility and substance. The very absence of over-the-top clashes, the great-defining gaffe which didn’t occur, meant that the candidates had an opportunity to be themselves, and millions of Americans could assess the candidates up close. John F. Kerry was John F. Kennedyesque, appearing smooth, poised, substantive and intelligent — although until his final statement, the closing statement of debate #3, he failed to offer an upbeat, inspiring vision. George W. Bush was more erratic and defensive. Defying the conventional wisdom, he was on firmer ground and far less jittery when discussing domestic issues rather than spewing out his robotic oversimplifications regarding the war on terror and Iraq. Stylistic considerations aside, the two candidates offered contrasting visions — Kerry the multilateralist v. Bush the unilateralist, Kerry the social liberal v. Bush the social conservative, Kerry the nuanced legislator adeptly juggling complex perspectives v. Bush the no-nonsense chief executive with a more black-and-white view. Yes, there were the usual obfuscations, soundbites, and postures, but, on the whole, the debates offered great political theatre and important policy instruction.”

Howard Zinn (at Democracy Now)

  • “Well, the contest, unfortunately, is not giving us any kind of fundamental reappraisal of American policy foreign and domestic. By a fundamental reappraisal, I mean we are dealing with a serious issue of the war in Iraq and we’re dealing with the serious issues of health and education, and what to do with the wealth of the United States to help people, and neither candidate is addressing the fundamentals. By that I mean, I heard them on the clip that you showed and talked about Osama bin Laden, they exchanged accusations about it. Bush denying, of course, as he denies everything, about what he said, and Kerry saying, no, you said that. It’s not important, really, about Osama bin Laden. They’re always trying to focus our attention on something that’s not fundamental. What’s fundamental is not one particular man. What’s fundamental is not even al-Qaeda. What’s fundamental, really, is American policy in the world, because if there is a root of terrorism, and that’s the problem, getting at the root of terrorism, the root of terrorism is not any one man, not any group of people in this country or that country. There are too many countries of where there’s anger against the United States, and where the anger against the United States can turn into fanaticism and into terrorism.”

Michael Beschloss (on PBS)

  • “One thing that strikes me more than anything else is this, if you think about the last five presidents before George W. Bush three of them were defeated before reelection, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush, that is exactly within the period which we have had debates since 1976. And I think what has struck me more than anything else is the fact that this has changed our political system, it gives challengers a leg up against an incumbent president of a kind that we haven’t had in most of American History. If John Kerry is elected in three weeks I think many people will say he couldn’t have done it without the ability to debate George W. Bush.”
  • “I don’t think it has especially worked this year. I guess I disagree with Richard, I think the rules have been too confining, I think the two minutes answers end up being long soundbites, often times the candidates recycling languages that they have been using on the campaign trail that seem to work with audiences.”
  • “Actually, it has been different if you look at the texts of the debates before. I think this year you see language used over and over again from debate to debate. Sometimes within a debate you’ll hear the same thing said twice by the same candidates. You don’t really feel you are getting beyond the surface that was the point of these things to begin with, not just to give a big audience to a candidate to deliver his best lines.”
  • “It is a bitter atmosphere and I think it is another thing about these three debates between these Presidential candidates. These were icy debates, there was very little humor and there sure was very little humor between the two guys, and I think if you compare that to for instance to Reagan and Mondale, and even to moments of Carter and Reagan in 1980, it shows how much our political culture has changed to this take no prisoners attitudes on the two sides. In a way these debates are not a very good harbinger of this country getting a little more united as some of them talked about.”

Ellen Fitzpatrick (professor of history at the University of New Hampshire, on PBS)

  • “It’s pretty hard as an historian not to walk away from it without thinking its déjà vu all over again. If you take a really long view, and you take a look at 1960 when we had the beginning of these debates, the domestic issues for instance highlighted tonight are very much the same kinds of issues there were being debated by Kennedy and Nixon, healthcare, social provision, Kennedy and Nixon had a long discourse around the issue of providing health insurance for Americans, and Nixon portrayed Kennedy’s plan as extreme as an overreach of the Federal government. Kennedy defended it not as big government, but really as the nation taking responsibility for its citizens. What was the program that they were sparing about; Medicare. So it is really hard when you think of these debates all together, of course the foreign policy issues are different, there are different social, cultural, and value issues, the debate about abortion, gay rights those have changed I am not saying nothing’s changed, but so much of this is consistent minimum wage, jobs, education, for one thing it shows us how persistent these problems have been.”
  • “But it is still a question about what is the responsibility of the Federal government, and what is the responsibility of not only states and localities, but families and parents. I think you do have two very different visions here, even if Democrats since over the Reagan years have backed away enormously from the fundamental tenants of American liberalism and endorsing them in those terms. You notice how little we hear about the cities, about anti-poverty programs, it’s about the middle class now, and the way in which it is squeezed economically.”
  • “I think these debates continue on the John F. Kennedy comparison. One interesting thing I think, one thing Kerry did tonight which Kennedy did was Kennedy very explicitly in those debates spoke to the nation. He looked out at the camera and addressed his remarks to the American people, and Nixon was later criticized for being having a tendency to speak to his opponent more than to the nation. So Kerry capitalized on that tonight.”
  • “What I think is quite remarkable tonight is the emphasis on religion that is important. Both candidates took pains to tell their audience, to tell the American people they are deeply religious. Remember in 1960 when Kennedy was running as a Catholic, he took pains to say that his religion didn’t matter to the fact that he was running for president. These two candidates are taking pains to say it does matter, and so they are tapping into and I think shaping a very different cultural environment.”

Richard Norton Smith (director of the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, on PBS)

  • “I think these three debates have been very substantive, they have been informative, we’ve seen big issues discussed, broad themes struck. I think they have been very informative debates. Michael’s point is well taken, there is this burden on the incumbent, in effect he is the defender of the status quo, and people in America love new. They may not always like the consequences of the new, but as a concept new is pretty attractive. And I thought you saw John Kerry in fact playing the John F. Kennedy role.”
  • “Because I think what John F. Kennedy did in 1960 it wasn’t a specific moment in those debates we look at gaps, we look at misstatements now, we zero in on those specific moments, and we think those are what actually swayed voters. What actually John Kennedy did in 1960 and I would argue what John Kerry is clearly trying to do is a cumulative process. Over three debates he is introducing himself carefully, incrementally establishing his credibility, his alternative philosophy, his style of leadership. He is getting the voters comfortable with who he is as a man, and as a president. That isn’t something that you do in a soundbite or a single debate. We’ll know in three weeks if it worked.”
  • “I was also I struck by something that this President Bush tried to do tonight, and tried to do in the last couple of debates was reminiscent of something his father did very effectively in 1988. It goes to these issues. Remember Michael Dukakis famously said that this was an election about competence, and not ideology. Ideology is a euphemism particularly for cultural values, and the first President Bush managed really to kind of turn the corner by really trying to use these words against Michael Dukakis. You see that in a repeated attempt by this President Bush to in affect turn Kerry’s own record as he defines it, against it.”
  • “I think it was a thoughtful, substantive, and heated discussion, that’s what democracy is all about.”

Doris Kearns Goodwin (on MSNBC’s “Imus In The Morning”)

  • “It is a pretty horrific process to go through month after month. It’s not normal. I mean, who is talking all day long, who is saying their same mantra over and over again where they have to repeat it and they have to pretend that they believe it after a while. So maybe the process is just too long and thank God for the debates. At least these debates show these guys under pressure. I mean think of the pressure these two were under last night, I mean President Bush knowing his whole legacy might depend on how well he did in these debates and Kerry knowing that hail to the chief might be sung to him one day or he is back being a Senator from Massachusetts having lost this enormous stand to make history. So they do stand up under pressure.”

Comments (8)

Campaign 2004: The Second Bush/Kerry Debate: Highlights

HISTORY ARTICLES

HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

HNN, 10-11-04

The Second Bush/Kerry Debate: Highlights

By Bonnie Goodman

Ms. Goodman is a graduate student at Concordia University and an HNN intern

The Instant Polls

  • ABC News: Kerry was the winner 44 to 41 percent, with 13 percent declaring the debate a tie.
  • CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll: Kerry: 47 percent, Bush: 45 percent.
  • Reuters/Zogby poll: Kerry has a slim 46-45 percent lead on Bush in the campaign in the latest poll.

Candidate Soundbites

George W. Bush

  • At one point [George W. Bush] interrupted moderator Charles Gibson’s follow-up question after Kerry said he was “not going to go alone like this president did” in Iraq. “I’ve got to answer this,” Bush said, jumping off his stool.
  • “You tell Tony Blair we’re going alone,” he said, loudly. At other points, his voice was almost a yell. (CBS’s Dick Meyer’s account of an exchange during the debate)
  • Kerry has”been in the Senate 20 years. Show me one accomplishment he’s had on Medicare.” (Kerry: “Actually, Mr. President, in 1997 we fixed Medicare, and I was one of the people involved in it.”)
  • “I wasn’t happy when we found out there wasn’t weapons, but Saddam Hussein was a unique threat. And the world is better off without him in power. And my opponent’s plans lead me to conclude that Saddam Hussein would still be in power, and the world would be more dangerous [if Kerry had been president].”
  • “I can see why people think that he changes position quite often, because he does.”
  • “I don’t seen how you can lead this country in a time of war, in a time of uncertainty, if you change your mind because of politics.”
  • “Uh, let me see where to start here. First, the National Journal named Senator Kennedy the most liberal senator of all. And that’s saying something in that bunch. You might say that took a lot of hard work.” (Referring to Kerry as Kennedy.)
  • “Yeah, I mean he’s got a record. He’s been there for 20 years. You can run but you can’t hide. He voted 98 times to raise taxes. I mean these aren’t made-up figures. And so people are going to have to look at the record. Look at the record of the man running for the president.”

John F. Kerry

  • “The president didn’t find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, so he has really turned his campaign into a weapon of mass deception, and the result is that you’ve been bombarded with advertisements suggesting that I’ve changed a position on this or that or the other.”
  • “The world is more dangerous today because the president didn’t make the right judgments. So what does he do? He’s trying to attack me. He wants you to believe that I can’t be president.”
  • “The president is just trying to scare everybody here with throwing labels around. I mean, ‘compassionate conservative,’ what does that mean? Cutting 500,000 kids from after-school programs, cutting 365,000 kids from health care, running up the biggest deficits in American history. Mr. President, you’re batting 0 for 2.”
  • “Boy, to listen to that — the president, I don’t think is living in a world of reality with respect to the environment.”

Historians’ Comments

Bruce Shulman (professor of History, Boston University, BU forum on presidential politics)

  • “I think if the president wins re-election, I think that’s going to be a pretty strong sign that the move towards conservatism and the growing influence of the sun belt and of religious conservatism in American life that we’ve seen in the past 25 years, that that is continuing and even strengthening.”

Alan Schroeder (presidential debate historian at Northeastern University, on CBS)

  • “Kerry was very aggressive in this debate. In some of those two-shots it looked like Kerry was the prosecutor and Bush was the defendant, Bush was better than last time but he seemed rather shrill to me and not terribly articulate.”

David Thomson (film historian on CBS)

  • “The great opportunity that this format gives is movement. A lot of speakers, like to move when talking, preachers, and Bush likes this. Bush gave off a signal right away that this is a format he was more comfortable in. But I think Kerry handled it equally well….I suspect that this is not a debate in which there will be a substantial change one way or another.”
  • “I think by the end of this debate there was a feeling that we’ve heard these guys say the same things too many times. We now know. It’s up to us. If we can’t make up our minds on what we see, then the worse for us.”

Richard Norton Smith (director of the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum on PBS)

  • “Well you saw that definitely in ’92 the first time this format was tried out. I thought this is the third now, well yeah ’96 of course with Clinton and Dole. I thought it was by far the best. A lot of people have doubts about the format, the town hall format; they think it is overly theatrical, in some ways, not that modern politics has become theatre.
  • “I thought there was two questions in particular we would have not heard, perhaps from a panel of reporters; one was on abortion, a very pointedly phrased question on abortion directed to Senator Kerry, and one equally pointed directed to President Bush about the Patriot Act by someone who felt their liberties were being infringed.”
  • “It certainly felt different than last Friday night, the President showed up, was intensely engaged I think he more than held his own. Its interesting: John Edwards maybe the trial lawyer, but John Kerry is the prosecuting attorney, and I thought that he returned to that role over and over again tonight. I thought he was very aggressive, I though he was crisp, in command of his facts. But I also think its interesting I think he said a couple of times “labels don’t mean anything,” that reminds me of Michael Dukakis saying “this an election about competence, not values.” George Bush seemed to be saying labels mean everything, and I think there in a nutshell is perhaps one of the choices, the stark choices that they offer.

Ellen Fitzpatrick (professor of history at the University of New Hampshire on PBS)

  • “I actually thought that there was a great deal more spontaneity because of the audience participation as your question suggests, but I also was also very struck at a difference in this town hall debate over previous town hall debates, and that was that the questions from the audience were pitched quite broadly In the past you had people standing up and saying I am a so and so, and I have an issue with X and Y.”
  • “It was really a kind of advancing, you had a collection of special interests especially coming from the citizenry, which is appropriate, people have their concerns and they look to politicians, and particularly the presidents to address those concerns. But this time I thought the questions, the quality of the questions were pitched, they were good quality questions were pitched broadly to national issues and concerns and I thought that was quite effective.”
  • “There’s a kind of solemnity that we are seeing in the debates all three of them now that reflect, in a way I feel it’s appropriate to the seriousness of the issues at hand. Every election year there are serious issues, but I do think that the post 9-11 environment that we are al now living in, the concerns that so many Americans have about security, the war on terror, the ongoing war in Iraq is lending a kind of solemnity to the proceedings that is very obvious, to me anyway.”

Michael Beschloss (on PBS)

  • “I didn’t think the format particularly worked, you know especially compared to earlier town meetings. I think there was a reason for this, because often times it does get into show business in a way that perhaps obscures the difference between the two candidates, but I thought the questioners look a little like props, and also there was none of the engagement you saw in previous debates. Part of that was the rules; there wasn’t much humor, these were not human beings who were really interacting with each other, and the result was that it was a rather an icy evening, a humorless evening for the most of it it recalled to some extent the relationship between George W. Bush and Al Gore four years ago.”
  • “You can have big differences but also have a little bit of humor and a more pleasant atmosphere. Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale, you can’t think of two candidates with probably more differences ideologically than those two, yet you look back at those two debates in 1984, there was humor when Reagan told a joke Mondale laughed. There was a sense that you know at the end of this evening these were not two men intensely antagonistic to each other. Mondale began his first debate by saying I like President Reagan, I respect the Presidency, I think he knows that. There wasn’t that element tonight, and I think I missed it.”
  • “I sure wish they had ten or eleven of these debates rather than three because when there are three there’s not enough time, because they can be affected by someone making a slip. We did not see that tonight, but often times there can be a moment that has inordinate impact. I would love to see a system where you have ten or eleven of these, not only because you get to discuss issues in greater length, depth, you get more of a sense of who these people are. I think one thing we saw this evening was that they both of these candidates knew there was such an enormous amount at stake, but they were a little bit sort of restrained and constrained that’s why we didn’t have that kind of engagement.”

Comments (4)

Campaign 2004: The First Bush/Kerry Debate: Highlights

HISTORY ARTICLES

HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

HNN, 10-01-04

The First Bush/Kerry Debate: Highlights

By Bonnie Goodman

Ms. Goodman is a graduate student at Concordia University and an HNN intern.

The Instant Polls

CBS: Kerry the winner by 44-26 percent.
ABC: Kerry the winner by 45-36 percent.
CNN/Gallup: Kerry the winner by 53-37 percent.

Candidate Soundbites

John F. Kerry

  • “This president has made, I regret to say, a colossal error of judgment. And judgment is what we look for in the president of the United States of America.”
  • “Well, you know, when I talked about the $87 billion, I made a mistake in how I talk about the war. But the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?”
  • “This president, I don’t know if he really sees what’s happening over there.”

George W. Bush

  • “He voted to authorize the use of force and now says it’s the wrong war at the wrong time. . . . I don’t think you can lead if you say wrong war, wrong time, wrong place. What message does that send to our troops?”
  • “The only thing consistent about my opponent’s position is he’s been inconsistent.”

Historians’ Comments

Arthur Schlesinger Jr

  • “Foreign policy has always been on the margin,” but this time “it haunts the conscience of the American people — 9/11 and the question whether the war in Iraq is worth the cost.”

Henry Graff (Columbia University presidential historian)

  • “[Kerry] is going to have to tell us why he voted yes and no.” On Kerry’s changed position concerning the war in Iraq.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson (director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania)

  • “I see a clash, a rhetorical clash between a person whose strength was rhetorically as a governor and a person whose strength is as a senator — a businessman versus a lawyer.”

Stephen Hess (presidential historian and a Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Brookings Institution, commenting on CBS)

  • “There may be some gain on the part of people who were not as familiar or aware particularly of Kerry who now get a sense of his seriousness and articulateness.”
  • “I think it was a reaffirming experience for listeners. People who went in intending to vote for Kerry will have thought that he did well, and the same will be true of those who were the Bush supporters. But if the status quo is maintained, that is actually good for the president, since he went into last night up in the polls.”
  • “The president had been so incredibly skillful up to this point in trying to make the campaign a referendum on the challenger, so to that degree Kerry righted the situation somewhat. So that was undoubtedly helpful. But still, I must say, I would be surprised if there were any major changes in the polls based on this.”
  • “My impression is that very few Americans are going to change their vote. They made their positions clear. They in a sense cancelled each other out.”

Richard Norton Smith (director of the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum on PBS)

  • “This was a debate about large issues. You heard George Bush, the nationalist debating John Kerry, the globalist and I thought Kerry did, his initials are not JFK for nothing. He was [chair] with John F. Kennedy in 1960 ‘we can do better.'”
  • “I thought Bush took an almost Reaganesque approach when he was repeatedly coming back to his few basic defining differences between these two candidates.”
  • “Style does trump substance as history does teach that. I thought Kerry was the smartest kid in the class and I thought that the president was a slightly world weary teacher occasionally brushing him off.”
  • “No, and I’ll say that’s a good thing. We are always griping about the fact that soundbites have crowded out substance. I don’t think there are many sound bites from tonight, and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.”

Ellen Fitzpatrick (professor of history at the University of New Hampshire on PBS)

  • “I think it was a far more substantive debate that we have seen in American Political History in many, many, many a year, and I think it is extremely important to remember that the last time the United States was in a massive and extensive effort in nation building and the context of war with an ongoing insurgency was in Vietnam. The period of 1964 to 1972 when that war waged there were no presidential debates, that was a coincidence but we never had the opportunity to see this stark contrast drawn. The American people have been given that opportunity tonight.”
  • “It is extremely difficult in this instance when you have John Kerry saying this war was a mistake, but he is not saying, therefore he will withdraw. He is saying it is a mistake that now needs to be fixed. There he can’t draw as sharp a distinction with this president.”
  • “I thought that Kerry had close to a zinger when he said I may make a mistake in my words but you made a mistake in intervening in this war.”

Michael Beschloss (on PBS)

  • “I don’t think the debate was that decisive, I don’t think it was a debate that will change many minds, cause people to say gee I see all sorts of things in George Bush and John Kerry that I didn’t see before.”
  • “The one thing I really think it did was this, these debates really drew a contrast between temperaments that is at times what a debate does well, and I often time felt as if I was sort of watching Adlai Stevenson debate John Wayne.”
  • “And you also had two guys each trying to knock the other out. Kerry saying that any President that has made all these mistakes doesn’t deserve another term, and George Bush saying don’t you know John, you can’t be a president, you can’t be a commander in chief if you keep on changing your mind and changing your core convictions.”
  • “And it wasn’t very much show business, and I think it was wonderful because I think that tends to usually overwhelm everything that you hear. I think this was a debate that you can hear for 90 minutes and be proud to be an American.”

ShareThisComments (13)

%d bloggers like this: