DEBATES–WHEN ADMIRAL STOCKDALE WALKED ON. A while ago I heard one of Nick’s friends, who is knowledgeable about history, chuckling about Admiral Stockdale’s performance in the Vice Presidential debate in 1992. I leaped in to defend Admiral Stockdale. Stockdale was a very distinguished man, who was unfamiliar with television cameras. I saw that debate and I read about it at the time.There were three participants: Stockdale, Dan Quayle and Al Gore. I remember reading how Quayle and Gore each had several media advisers who spent the afternoon dealing with the camera setups—which illustrated for me the importance of television expertise. Stockdale began the debate in a way that would have been effective in an informal speech: “Who am I? Why am I here?” The media found this incongruous and didn’t let people forget it. Nick’s friend quoted those words, which are evidently the soundbite by which Stockdale is remembered. Here is a link to an article by Stockdale’s son which confirms my recollections.

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  1. elmer says:

    I have never checked against a transcript, but I still think I’m right about this. In a debate with Mondale, I think the first, Reagan’s conclusion seemed wandering and disjointed. His performance was criticized for this. But just before he began, Barbara Walters had told Reagan that he was now to go first with his final remarks. Reagan said, no wait, first it’s my turn to reply to what Mondale just said, and then we each conclude. Walters disagreed, so Reagan paused for a second and then went ahead. I was certain at the time that Reagan was right. If so, Reagan was probably disconcerted because he had been thinking about his reply to Mondale, which he had to discard. Elmer

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