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 On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid