News / USA

US Republican Candidate Debates Define Positions

The Republican Party's presidential candidates have been confronting each other in a series of debates meant to give voters a sense of where each aspirant stands on critical issues. These debates serve to deliver messages from the candidates about themselves and their rivals.

These presidential contenders share a common love for America, but not for each other.

"In the 15 years after he left the speakership [of the House of Representatives], the Speaker [Newt Gingrich] has been working as an influence peddler in Washington," said Mitt Romney in one debate. 

"He just said at least four things that were false. I don't want to waste time on them," Newt Gingrich said.

As they vie for their party's nomination, the contenders put on their verbal boxing gloves and entered the ring of the candidate debates!

In the 2012 presidential contest, the incumbent, Barack Obama, is unopposed within his own Democratic Party.  But the field is wide open in the other main U.S. party, the Republicans.  And the competition is fierce. The nationally televised debates provide a place where the candidates can speak directly to the electorate in search of support.

The present era of presidential debates began in 1976, when incumbent President Gerald Ford sparred with Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter.  Debates have been part of presidential elections ever since.  But unlike traditional debates, they are not structured as point-and-rebuttal arguments.  The format is more question-and-response, with other candidates' jabs and jousts thrown in, as Georgetown University professor Mark Rom notes.

"They have been 'free-for-alls' where all the Republican candidates for president have been able to make their best claims, their biggest charges, their strongest attacks on their opponents as a way of lifting themselves up in the polls," he said.

An on-camera mistake costs debaters dearly. A recent example of this happened to candidate Governor Rick Perry who could not name three federal entities he vowed to eliminate.

There is one series of debates held before each party officially nominates its candidate.

Then, just before the November election, there are three debates between the nominees, and one between their vice presidential running mates.  In 2008, it was Democrat Barack Obama against Republican John McCain.

Unlike the pre-nomination debates, these are not held by TV networks, newspapers, or political parties, but are run by the independent, nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates.

Their structure is more formal, and the stakes are much higher, as Politico newspaper reporter David Levinthal explains.

"When you have the Democratic candidate and the Republican candidate, who are going head-to-head with each other, that's the championship game right there," he said.  "Your performance in those debates is going to be absolutely critical to the outcome of the election in many cases."  

One notable example of that were the 1960 debates between Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Richard Nixon.  Historians credit Kennedy's TV debate performance as a big factor in his victory.


Jeffrey Young

Jeffrey Young came to the “Corruption” beat after years of doing news analysis, primarily on global strategic issues such as nuclear proliferation.  During most of 2013, he was on special assignment in Baghdad and elsewhere with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).  Previous VOA activities include VOA-TV, where he created the “How America Works” and “How America Elects” series, and the “Focus” news analysis unit.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid