Presidential Debates: Past and Present

Numerous political debates have already taken place in advance of the 2012 presidential election. As the parties pick their candidates and the debates continue, look to the past for a broader perspective on the speeches and strategies taking place today. To help, we’ve rounded up a number of presidential debate resources.

Commission on Presidential Debates
The Commission on Presidential Debates provides debate transcripts, voter education resources, debate history, and more. Back in 2008 we profiled the site here on AHA Today.

Commission on Presidential Debates

Lesson Plans
PBS Newshour Extra offers resources on current events for use in the classroom by teachers and students. Below we list two of the lesson plans on presidential debates from the site.

  • PBS Newshour Extra - Presidential Debate Primer Lesson PlanPresidential Debate Primer
    This lesson plan draws from issues that came up during the 2008 election, but its objective, to “provide students with a valuable opportunity to learn how the candidates communicate their policy positions and leadership qualities to the American electorate” is broad enough to be applicable in the classroom today.
  • Lesson Plan: Holding an In-Class Post Presidential Debate
    Developed in 2004, this lesson plan can easily be adjusted to current issues. Students will learn formal debate procedures, logic, and more about campaign issues.

Articles
History Now is a quarterly journal from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Find all past issues online, and see the September 2004 issue for articles on presidential elections.

Presidential Libraries on YouTube
A number of presidential libraries have YouTube pages where they post videos of important speeches, scholar talks, and exhibit tours. The YouTube page of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library has a whole collection of videos on the 1960 presidential campaign, including his debate with Nixon (see below).

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