Carroll County Times
Carroll County Times Opinion

Letter: Remembering past presidential debate banter

Suffice it to say, many dyed-in-the-wool conservatives found the Republican presidential debates to be as boring as watching a flea circus, and are hard pressed to back a candidate, other than Trump, to carry their banner into the general election.

But as I watched with bemusement the candidates slugging it out in four rounds — albeit with velvet gloves rather than with brass knuckles — I remembered past presidential and vice-presidential debates, when quick-witted one-liners and gaffes played a key role in who got the accolades. A few of the most notable ones were:


Kennedy/Nixon debates in 1960. Although Nixon did well in trading blows with his younger, handsome Irish firebrand, it was his vanity that did him in, by looking in the eyes of the viewers to be as pale as a ghost — if not unhealthy — for refusing to wear makeup before appearing on stage.

Ford/Carter debates in 1976. Ford's gaffe in saying, "there's no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe now; and there never will be under a Ford administration."


Reagan/Carter debates in 1980. "There you go again," was Regan's rejoinder to Carter accusing him of having been vehemently opposed to Medicare and Social Security benefits as a governor.

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Bentsen/Quayle vice-presidential debates in 1988. "I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy," was his retort to Quayle claiming he was as well-qualified to be president as Kennedy, what with his having served in Congress about the same length of time time as him.

Admiral Stocksdale in 1992 vice-presidential debates. His opening statement: "Who am I? Why am I here? I'm no politician."

Gore in the 1992 vice-presidential debates in 1992. "… like a rooster taking credit for the sunrise," was Gore's comeback to George H.W. Bush claiming to playing a major role in ending the Cold War.

Gov. Rick Perry in 2011 presidential debates. He spent 53 seconds trying to recall the third of the three government agencies he'd eliminate as president. Ending up by saying "oops."

Quote of the week: "I will take the negative side in any debate; for I can argue against anything." Clarence Darrow, famous 20th century defense attorney.

David Grand