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1996 United States presidential debates

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The United States presidential election debates were held during the 1996 presidential election. Three debates were held between Republican candidate, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and Democratic incumbent President Bill Clinton, the major candidates. One debate was held with their vice presidential running mates, Jack Kemp and Al Gore. All three debates were sponsored by the non-profit Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), which has organized presidential debates since its establishment in 1987.

The vice presidential debate was held on October 9 at the Mahaffey Theater. The presidential debates were held on October 6 at The Bushnell and October 16 at University of San Diego, ahead of the November 7 Election Day. Jim Lehrer moderated each of the presidential debates. In each of the first two debates, the candidates received questioned in turn with two minutes to answer and a 60-second rebuttal. The third and final debate featured a town hall meeting format.

Participant selection

In 1996, the following 6 candidates achieved ballot access in enough states to mathematically win the election via the Electoral College:

Presidential Candidate Party Ballot access
Bob Dole Republican 50+DC
Bill Clinton Democratic 50+DC
Ross Perot Reform 50+DC
Harry Browne Libertarian 50+DC
John Hagelin Natural Law 43
Howard Phillips Constitution 41

Unlike in 1992, Ross Perot would be excluded from the debates in the 1996 campaign, the Paul Kirk, co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates stated that "Our decision, was made on the basis that only President Clinton and Senator Dole have a realistic chance, as set forth in our criteria, to be elected the next president of the United States."[1]

Only Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and President Bill Clinton met the CPD selection criteria for any of the presidential debates. As a result, only Jack Kemp and Al Gore met the criteria for the vice presidential debate.


Two presidential debates were scheduled by the Commission on Presidential Debates:

  1. October 6 at The Bushnell, with questions from moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS;
  2. October 16 at University of San Diego, with questions from moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS;

One vice-presidential debate was held:

  • October 9 at Mahaffey Theater, moderated by Jim Lehrer of PBS.

First presidential debate (The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts)

The Debate was held in the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford, Connecticut.

Jim Lehrer of PBS' The NewsHour posed the questions for each candidate.



An estimated 46.1 million viewers tuned into the debates.

Vice presidential debate (Mahaffey Theater)

The Debate was held in the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Vice President Al Gore
Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Jack Kemp

Jim Lehrer of PBS' The NewsHour posed the questions for each candidate.



An estimated 26.6 million viewers tuned into the debate.

Second presidential debate (University of San Diego)

The debate was held at the Shiley Theater on the campus of University of San Diego in San Diego, California

Jim Lehrer of PBS' The NewsHour moderated the town hall style debate featuring the questions asked by members of the audience:



An estimated 36.3 million viewers tuned into the debate.

Third-party debates


  1. ^ "Debate Commission Excludes Perot". 1996-09-17.

External links

This page was last edited on 23 June 2019, at 23:27
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