Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford: The Longest Half Hour In Presidential Politics!
With everybody focused on this year's presidential debates between President Obama and Gov. Romney, we all know that the stakes are very high. Although not many voters switch their positions because of a debate, in a close, tight race enough can switch to make a difference.
And mistakes there have been! In 1960 a sweaty, swarthy Richard Nixon smoldered against a young telegenic John F. Kennedy (although many who just heard the debate on radio said that Nixon actually won). Lloyd Benson filleted Vice-President Dan Quayle with the now famous "You sir, are no Jack Kennedy." Al Gore huffed and puffed his way to a losing effort against George H. Bush. Ronald Reagan smacked his opponent with "There you go again." George H. W. Bush impatiently looked at his watch as if to say "When will this Clinton guy ever shut up." And many more.
There is one debate snafu that (in my opinion) rises above all the others. It was through no fault of either candidate. The year was 1976, Jimmy Carter against President Gerald Ford.
Just a few minutes into the debate the sound system died. For fear of looking uncertain as to what to do, each candidate stood as still as a stone for almost a half hour while the audio was fixed. No chatting, no chuckling, no hand shaking, no leaving the stage for a drink of water. Nothing. Just silence and immobility.
It was the most uncomfortable presidential debate moment(s) of them all.
Here is and actual real time video of that night. Watch as Chet Huntley comes in at the end to make some sense of what has happened. Amazing...