Time compliles a list of ten of the most memorable debate moments of all time.
First on the list (although I don’t think they are meant to be in any particular order) is this clip of Gerald Ford’s 1976 denial that there was any “Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.” It was an amazing gaffe, especially for a Republican president, that Max Frankel of the New York Times even asked him again. But Ford did not back down.
My memory of the debates that year was when a technical glitch wiped out the sound system, and forced Ford and then Gov. Jimmy Carter to wait awkwardly at their lecterns for about 40 minutes. It’s hard to believe something like that happening again, or the candidates enduring what was surely a tortuous wait in the electronic age.
Not included on the Time list is another moment from 1976: the vice presidential debate betweem Walter Mondale and Bob Dole. Dole, Ford’s running mate, rather bizarrely labels World War II, Korea and Vietnam “Democrat wars” responsible for the deaths of 1.6 million people.
Finally, here’s this clip from Carter’s 1980 debate with Ronald Reagan, in which Carter says that he asked his daughter Amy what she thought the most important issue was. “She said nuclear weapons.” It was a much derided remark that some mocked as seeming as if the president was taking advice from his grade-school age daughter.