Why Candidates Fear Presidential Debates

Document Type


Publication Date



As part of the UNLV Presidential Debate Lecture Series Alan Schroeder, professor at the Northeastern University School of Journalism in Boston, will present a talk titled: “Risky Business on the Campaign Trail: Why Candidates Fear Presidential Debates." On September 26, 1960, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon met in a Chicago television studio for a seminal event in American history: the first presidential debate. Kennedy and Nixon inaugurated a new genre of political communication, one that now stands as a pre-election expectation, not only in the United States but also in much of the world. Voters and journalists find much to like about presidential debates. For candidates, however, the tradition has been a mixed blessing. As that opening encounter demonstrated, Richard Nixon failed while JFK shone, for reasons beyond either man’s control. The legacy of Kennedy and Nixon has hovered over every presidential debater since, inspiring feelings of trepidation and resentment among the men and women who step into the arena


Campaign debates; Campaigns; Presidential


American Politics | Social Influence and Political Communication | Speech and Rhetorical Studies

Streaming Media


Part of the Presidential Debate Series, sponsored by the UNLV Greenspun College of Urban Affairs, UNLV Libraries, and the UNLV Presidential Debate Campus Engagement Committee. Presented on September 27, 2016, at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Greenspun Auditorium.

MP4 Size: 267 MB