1984: For the third election in a row, a challenger tried to oust an incumbent president. Walter Mondale, however, could not do to Ronald Reagan what Reagan and Carter had done previously. What you might remember: Reagan was 73 at the time, and some Americans wondered if he was still up to the job. In the second debate with Mondale, Reagan confronted the issue with a joke: I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponents youth and inexperience. The camera then pulled back and viewers could see Mondale laughing, which helped reinforce the sense that Reagan had won it right there. What you might have forgotten: Reagan didnt do well in the first debate; Mondales surprise showing against a popular incumbent gave his campaign a boost.
United Press International