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Presidential Debates

Although not mandated by the Constitution and a "tradition" which only goes back to 1960, Americans have come to expect a broadcast debate between their Presidential Nominees as a part of the Election Process.

70 old time radio show recordings
(total playtime 100 hours, 29 min)
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Kennedy Nixon DebateThe Cambridge Union, which considers itself to be the oldest and largest student debating society, states that competitive debating is "a fun activity akin to a game". However, when the stakes are the Presidency of the United States of America and Leadership of the Free World, fun is forgotten, and the debates can become deadly serious.

Scholarly debate began in the symposiums of ancient Greece as a device for students to develop oratorical skills. A truly skilled debater can attack or defend a particular position or issue with skill, whether or not that position conforms with their personal beliefs. Debate also became an important part of Grecian Democracy when issues were discussed and debated in public forums.

Formal debate entered the American political scene with the Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1958. At the time, Lincoln was the Republican nominee for US Senator from Illinois and Douglas the incumbent Democrat. They agreed to participate in a series of seven debates in various Illinois districts with the following rules; there would be no moderator, one man would speak for an hour to establish his position, his opponent would have an hour-and-a-half rebuttal, and then the first would speak for thirty minutes in defense of the rebuttal. Senator Douglas kept his seat in 1858 and helped win a Democratic Majority in the Illinois House. However, Lincoln’s performance in the Debates was instrumental in securing the 1860 Presidential Nomination. Senator Douglas of Illinois led the Democratic ticket.

There were a few Presidential Primary debates, notably between republicans Thomas Dewey and Harold Stassen in 1948 and Democrats Adlai Stevenson and Estes Kefauver in 1956. The first formal Presidential Debates took place between Senator John Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon during the 1960 election. The first of four debates took place in the studios of WBBM-TV Chicago on September 26. Interestingly, radio audiences generally felt that with his greater knowledge of foreign affairs and policy, Nixon won the first debate, however, Kennedy was able to project a youthful, winning image over television which historically proved to make all the difference.

Carter-Reagan DebateThere would be no debates between the Presidential Nominees until the 1976 Race between Governor Jimmy Carter and Sitting President Gerald Ford. The Campaigns agreed to three debates sponsored by the League of Women Voters, on Domestic Issues, Foreign Policy, and the final debate on open topics. A debate between the Vice-Presidential Candidates, Senators Walter Mondale, and Bob Dole, was also scheduled. About an hour and nineteen minutes into the first debate, while Carter was making a statement, the audio feed television networks from the Walnut Street Theatre was interrupted by a technical glitch. At first, the Candidates continued speaking but when informed of the glitch they both stood quietly at their podiums for 17 minutes awaiting repairs.

From a historical perspective, the second debate over Foreign Policy on October 6 became more important. Up to this point, President Ford appeared to be pulling ahead in the polls but during the debate he blundered, stating that "There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe". Ford's momentum stalled, and Carter won what would be a close election.

Like the Lincoln – Douglas Debates, one of the most interesting debates in this collection is not part of a Presidential Race, although it would have impacts and implications of future Races. The event was part of CBS TV's Town Hall Meeting of the World on May 15, 1967. The topic was "The Image of America and the Youth of the World" and was broadcast from three different studios. In London, an international panel of university students who were angry over US involvement in Southeast Asia and generally resentful of "American Imperialism" gathered (the only American on the panel was Rhodes Scholar and future basketball star and Senator Bill Bradley). In Washington D.C. was Senator from New York, Robert F. Kennedy, who was still undecided whether to throw his hat in for a White House Run. In Sacramento, California was former actor and Governor of California (elected in 1966) Ronald Reagan.

Carter Ford debateThe Student Panel immediately began to attack Kennedy, Reagan, and American Policies. Kennedy came off as apologetic and inexperienced. With his depth of acting experience along with being mentored about Vietnam by former President Eisenhower, Reagan held his own and made good points although he still had difficulty with the rowdy enthusiasm of the student panel.

The debate is often regarded as Ronald Reagan's debut on the World Stage. As the '68 Presidential Campaign progressed, Kennedy developed into a more effective speaker and debater. With the Democratic Convention about to begin and having won the California Primary, Kennedy was the presumptive Nominee but in the early morning hours of June 5, 1968, while exiting the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, Bobby Kennedy was felled by an assassin's bullet.

While Ethel Kennedy, then pregnant with their eleventh child, was standing vigil over her dying husband, she received a hand-written note from Governor Ronald Reagan. Realizing no words would console a grieving widow, the Governor kept his message to-the-point, "I know there is little anyone can say at such a time but if there is anything we can do to be of help in any way, please let us know. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Nancy and Ronald Reagan." He even offered up the services of his brain surgeon father-in-law, Dr. Loyal Davis.

On June 5, 1981, Ethel Kennedy joined President Ronald Reagan in the White House Rose Garden for the presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal struck in honor of Robert Kennedy. Reagan would pass away from complications due to Alzheimer's Disease at the age of 93. The date was June 5, 2004.

Text on OTRCAT.com ©2001-2020 OTRCAT INC All Rights Reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.

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  • MP3 CDs are delivered by mail. These archival quality MP3 CDs are playable in your computer and many MP3 player devices.



    70 recordings on 5 MP3 CDs for just $25.00
    total playtime 100 hours, 29 min
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    Volume 1 - 18 shows - total playtime 20 hours 30 minutes
    MP3 CD
    Volume 1: 5.00
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    1. Debate 19560000 Stevenson-Kefauver First Televised Debate.mp3
    2. Debate 19560521 Stevenson -Kefauver First Presidential.mp3
    3. Debate 19600504 Kennedy-Humphrey Primary.mp3
    4. Debate 19600926 Kennedy-Nixon First Presidential.mp3
    5. Debate 19601007 Kennedy-Nixon Second Presidential.mp3
    6. Debate 19601013 Kennedy-Nixon Third Presidential.mp3
    7. Debate 19601021 Kennedy-Nixon Fourth Presidential.mp3
    8. Debate 19670515 RFK-Reagan Presidential.mp3
    9. Debate 19680601 RFK-McCarthy Presidential.mp3
    10. Debate 19760000 Mondale-Dole Vice Presidential.mp3
    11. Debate 19760923 Carter-Ford First Presidential.mp3
    12. Debate 19761006 Carter-Ford Second Presidential.mp3
    13. Debate 19761015 Mondale v Dole Vice Pres Debate.mp3
    14. Debate 19761022 Carter-Ford Third Presidential.mp3
    15. Debate 19800424 Reagan-Bush Primary Presidential.mp3
    16. Debate 19800921 Reagan-Anderson Presidential.mp3
    17. Debate 19801028 Reagan-Carter Presidential.mp3
    18. Debate 19801028 Reagan-Carter-Anderson Presidential.mp3
    Volume 2 - 14 shows - total playtime 21 hours 36 minutes
    MP3 CD
    Volume 2: 5.00
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    1. Debate 19821015 Clinton v Bush v Perod Second Debate.mp3
    2. Debate 19840000 Bush-Ferraro Vice Presidential.mp3
    3. Debate 19841007 Reagan-Mondale First Presidential.mp3
    4. Debate 19841021 Reagan-Mondale Second Presidential.mp3
    5. Debate 19880000 Quayle-Bentsen Vice Presidential.mp3
    6. Debate 19880110 Republican Primary Presidential.mp3
    7. Debate 19880124 Democratic Primary Presidential.mp3
    8. Debate 19880925 Bush-Dukakis First Presidential.mp3
    9. Debate 19881005 Quayle v Bentsen Vice Pres Debate.mp3
    10. Debate 19881013 Bush-Dukakis Second Presidential.mp3
    11. Debate 19920000 Gore-Quayle-Stockdale Vice Presidential.mp3
    12. Debate 19920315 Democratic Primary Candidates Presidential.mp3
    13. Debate 19921011 Clinton v Bush v Perot First Debate.mp3
    14. Debate 19921013 Gore v Quayle v Stockdate VP Debate.mp3
    Volume 3 - 15 shows - total playtime 21 hours 20 minutes
    MP3 CD
    Volume 3: 5.00
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    1. Debate 19921015 Clinton v Bush v Perot Second Debate.mp3
    2. Debate 19921019 Clinton v Bush v Perot Third Debate.mp3
    3. Debate 19931109 Gore-Perot NAFTA Presidential.mp3
    4. Debate 19941025 Massachusetts Senatorial Debate.mp3
    5. Debate 19961006 Clinton-Dole First Presidential.mp3
    6. Debate 19961009 Gore-Kemp Vice Presidential.mp3
    7. Debate 19961016 Clinton-Dole Second Presidential.mp3
    8. Debate 19961028 Kerry - Weld Massachusetts.mp3
    9. Debate 20000215 Bush-McCain-Keyes First Presidential.mp3
    10. Debate 20001003 Bush-Gore First Presidential.mp3
    11. Debate 20001005 Cheney-Lieberman Vice Presidential.mp3
    12. Debate 20001011 Bush-Gore Second Presidential.mp3
    13. Debate 20001017 Bush-Gore Third Presidential.mp3
    14. Debate 20040930 Bush-Kerry First Presidential.mp3
    15. Debate 20041005 Cheney-Edwards Vice Presidential.mp3
    Volume 4 - 14 shows - total playtime 20 hours 41 minutes
    MP3 CD
    Volume 4: 5.00
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    1. Debate 20041008 Bush-Kerry Second Presidential.mp3
    2. Debate 20041013 Bush-Kerry Third Presidential.mp3
    3. Debate 20080000 Obama-Clinton Third Presidential.mp3
    4. Debate 20080226 Obama-McCain First Presidential.mp3
    5. Debate 20081002 Biden-Palin Vice Presidential.mp3
    6. Debate 20081008 Obama-McCain Second Presidential.mp3
    7. Debate 20100926 McCain Senate Debate.mp3
    8. Debate 20120920 Tim Kaine Senate Debate - Part 1.mp3
    9. Debate 20121003 Obama-Romney First Presidential.mp3
    10. Debate 20121012 Biden-Ryan Vice Presidential.mp3
    11. Debate 20121017 Obama-Romney Second Presidential.mp3
    12. Debate 20121018 Tim Kaine Senate Debate - Part 3.mp3
    13. Debate 20121022 Obama-Romney Third Presidential.mp3
    14. Debate 20150806 Republican Candidates First Presidential.mp3
    Volume 5 - 9 shows - total playtime 16 hours 20 minutes
    MP3 CD
    Volume 5: 5.00
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    1. Debate 20151013 Democratic Candidates First Presidential.mp3
    2. Debate 20160926 Trump-Clinton First Presidential.mp3
    3. Debate 20161005 Pence-Kaine Vice Presidential.mp3
    4. Debate 20161009 Trump-Clinton Second Presidential.mp3
    5. Debate 20161019 Trump-Clinton Third Presidential.mp3
    6. Debate 20190626 Democratic Presidential Debate First Night.mp3
    7. Debate 20190626 First 2020 Democrate Debate - Part 1.mp3
    8. Debate 20190627 Democratic Presidential Debate Second Night.mp3
    9. Debate 20190627 First 2020 Democrate Debate - Part 2.mp3
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    70 recordings on 5 MP3 Collection Downloads for just $25.00
    total playtime 100 hours, 29 min
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    Volume 1 - 18 shows - total playtime 20 hours 30 minutes
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    Volume 1: $5.00
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    1. Debate 19560000 Stevenson-Kefauver First Televised Debate.mp3
    2. Debate 19560521 Stevenson -Kefauver First Presidential.mp3
    3. Debate 19600504 Kennedy-Humphrey Primary.mp3
    4. Debate 19600926 Kennedy-Nixon First Presidential.mp3
    5. Debate 19601007 Kennedy-Nixon Second Presidential.mp3
    6. Debate 19601013 Kennedy-Nixon Third Presidential.mp3
    7. Debate 19601021 Kennedy-Nixon Fourth Presidential.mp3
    8. Debate 19670515 RFK-Reagan Presidential.mp3
    9. Debate 19680601 RFK-McCarthy Presidential.mp3
    10. Debate 19760000 Mondale-Dole Vice Presidential.mp3
    11. Debate 19760923 Carter-Ford First Presidential.mp3
    12. Debate 19761006 Carter-Ford Second Presidential.mp3
    13. Debate 19761015 Mondale v Dole Vice Pres Debate.mp3
    14. Debate 19761022 Carter-Ford Third Presidential.mp3
    15. Debate 19800424 Reagan-Bush Primary Presidential.mp3
    16. Debate 19800921 Reagan-Anderson Presidential.mp3
    17. Debate 19801028 Reagan-Carter Presidential.mp3
    18. Debate 19801028 Reagan-Carter-Anderson Presidential.mp3
    Volume 2 - 14 shows - total playtime 21 hours 36 minutes
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    Volume 2: $5.00
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    1. Debate 19821015 Clinton v Bush v Perod Second Debate.mp3
    2. Debate 19840000 Bush-Ferraro Vice Presidential.mp3
    3. Debate 19841007 Reagan-Mondale First Presidential.mp3
    4. Debate 19841021 Reagan-Mondale Second Presidential.mp3
    5. Debate 19880000 Quayle-Bentsen Vice Presidential.mp3
    6. Debate 19880110 Republican Primary Presidential.mp3
    7. Debate 19880124 Democratic Primary Presidential.mp3
    8. Debate 19880925 Bush-Dukakis First Presidential.mp3
    9. Debate 19881005 Quayle v Bentsen Vice Pres Debate.mp3
    10. Debate 19881013 Bush-Dukakis Second Presidential.mp3
    11. Debate 19920000 Gore-Quayle-Stockdale Vice Presidential.mp3
    12. Debate 19920315 Democratic Primary Candidates Presidential.mp3
    13. Debate 19921011 Clinton v Bush v Perot First Debate.mp3
    14. Debate 19921013 Gore v Quayle v Stockdate VP Debate.mp3
    Volume 3 - 15 shows - total playtime 21 hours 20 minutes
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    Volume 3: $5.00
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    1. Debate 19921015 Clinton v Bush v Perot Second Debate.mp3
    2. Debate 19921019 Clinton v Bush v Perot Third Debate.mp3
    3. Debate 19931109 Gore-Perot NAFTA Presidential.mp3
    4. Debate 19941025 Massachusetts Senatorial Debate.mp3
    5. Debate 19961006 Clinton-Dole First Presidential.mp3
    6. Debate 19961009 Gore-Kemp Vice Presidential.mp3
    7. Debate 19961016 Clinton-Dole Second Presidential.mp3
    8. Debate 19961028 Kerry - Weld Massachusetts.mp3
    9. Debate 20000215 Bush-McCain-Keyes First Presidential.mp3
    10. Debate 20001003 Bush-Gore First Presidential.mp3
    11. Debate 20001005 Cheney-Lieberman Vice Presidential.mp3
    12. Debate 20001011 Bush-Gore Second Presidential.mp3
    13. Debate 20001017 Bush-Gore Third Presidential.mp3
    14. Debate 20040930 Bush-Kerry First Presidential.mp3
    15. Debate 20041005 Cheney-Edwards Vice Presidential.mp3
    Volume 4 - 14 shows - total playtime 20 hours 41 minutes
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    Volume 4: $5.00
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    1. Debate 20041008 Bush-Kerry Second Presidential.mp3
    2. Debate 20041013 Bush-Kerry Third Presidential.mp3
    3. Debate 20080000 Obama-Clinton Third Presidential.mp3
    4. Debate 20080226 Obama-McCain First Presidential.mp3
    5. Debate 20081002 Biden-Palin Vice Presidential.mp3
    6. Debate 20081008 Obama-McCain Second Presidential.mp3
    7. Debate 20100926 McCain Senate Debate.mp3
    8. Debate 20120920 Tim Kaine Senate Debate - Part 1.mp3
    9. Debate 20121003 Obama-Romney First Presidential.mp3
    10. Debate 20121012 Biden-Ryan Vice Presidential.mp3
    11. Debate 20121017 Obama-Romney Second Presidential.mp3
    12. Debate 20121018 Tim Kaine Senate Debate - Part 3.mp3
    13. Debate 20121022 Obama-Romney Third Presidential.mp3
    14. Debate 20150806 Republican Candidates First Presidential.mp3
    Volume 5 - 9 shows - total playtime 16 hours 20 minutes
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    Volume 5: $5.00
    Add To Cart
    1. Debate 20151013 Democratic Candidates First Presidential.mp3
    2. Debate 20160926 Trump-Clinton First Presidential.mp3
    3. Debate 20161005 Pence-Kaine Vice Presidential.mp3
    4. Debate 20161009 Trump-Clinton Second Presidential.mp3
    5. Debate 20161019 Trump-Clinton Third Presidential.mp3
    6. Debate 20190626 Democratic Presidential Debate First Night.mp3
    7. Debate 20190626 First 2020 Democrate Debate - Part 1.mp3
    8. Debate 20190627 Democratic Presidential Debate Second Night.mp3
    9. Debate 20190627 First 2020 Democrate Debate - Part 2.mp3
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    70 recordings on 20 Audio CDs
    total playtime 18 hours, 30 min

    Presidential Debates Disc A001

    1. Debate 19560000 Stevenson-Kefauver First Televised Debate

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    Presidential Debates Disc A002

    1. Debate 19560521 Stevenson -Kefauver First Presidential

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    Presidential Debates Disc A003

    1. Debate 19600504 Kennedy-Humphrey Primary

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    Presidential Debates Disc A004

    1. Debate 19600926 Kennedy-Nixon First Presidential

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    Presidential Debates Disc A005

    1. Debate 19601007 Kennedy-Nixon Second Presidential

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    Presidential Debates Disc A006

    1. Debate 19601013 Kennedy-Nixon Third Presidential

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    Presidential Debates Disc A007

    1. Debate 19601021 Kennedy-Nixon Fourth Presidential

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    Presidential Debates Disc A008

    1. Debate 19670515 RFK-Reagan Presidential

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    Presidential Debates Disc A009

    1. Debate 19680601 RFK-McCarthy Presidential

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    Presidential Debates Disc A010

    1. Debate 19800424 Reagan-Bush Primary Presidential

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    Presidential Debates Disc A011

    1. Debate 19800921 Reagan-Anderson Presidential

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    Presidential Debates Disc A012

    1. Debate 19801028 Reagan-Carter-Anderson Presidential

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    Presidential Debates Disc A013

    1. Debate 19920315 Democratic Primary Candidates Presidential

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    Presidential Debates Disc A014

    1. Debate 19931109 Gore-Perot NAFTA Presidential

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    Presidential Debates Disc A015

    1. Debate 19941025 Massachusetts Senatorial Debate

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    Presidential Debates Disc A016

    1. Debate 19961028 Kerry - Weld Massachusetts

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    Presidential Debates Disc A017

    1. Debate 20190627 Democratic Presidential Debate Second Night

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    Presidential Debates Disc A018

    1. Debate 20100926 McCain Senate Debate

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    Presidential Debates Disc A019

    1. Debate 20120920 Tim Kaine Senate Debate - Part 1

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    Presidential Debates Disc A020

    1. Debate 20121018 Tim Kaine Senate Debate - Part 3

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