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

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs