The Campaign: Candid Camera
(TIME, October 10, 1960) -- WAS NIXON SABOTAGED BY TV MAKEUP ARTIST? demanded Chicago's Daily News, which leans to the Republican side. "This newspaper is 100% behind you Richard Milhous Nixon," editorialized the arch-conservative Manchester, N.H. Union Leader, adding: "Frankly, we thought Nixon was clobbered." Just about as kind a judgment as Dick Nixon could find in a newspaper after his first TV debate with Jack Kennedy last week was a headline in the Washington Post: BIG DEBATE VIEWED AS DEAD HEAT. And event he most charitable Republican politico knew that in the circumstances, a dead heat meant that Vice President Nixon had wound up ion a tie with an opponent he had branded "immature" and "naive."
Pitch For The Independents
On sound points of argument Nixon probably took most of the honors; a private poll organized by Atlanta Constitution Publisher Ralph McGill reported Nixon a clear winner to those who listened only by radio. But since the debate shed little new light on the issues of the campaign, some 73 million televiewers were left with the sharp image of the campaigners themselves: two well-informed men, quick with figures and fact, talking quickly against the clock. Older men - an Eisenhower, a Stevenson , a Truman, - might not have had so many statistics by heart but probably would have projected more certainty of character.
Kennedy was alert, aggressive and cool. Nixon was strangely nervous, perspiring profusely, so badly made up (by order of his own TV adviser, who decreed a light powdering instead of pancake makeup) that under the baleful glare of floodlights he looked ill, as well as ill at ease. One of Nixon's difficulties was his decision to pitch his appeals to the all-important independent voters, and as if afraid they would be repelled if he was too aggressive, he seemed overeager to agree to Kennedy's goals and question only means. Nixon thus had an unexpected "me, too" sound.
Lift For The Lackadaisical
Kennedy's confident performance energized lackadaisical Democrats like no other single event in the campaign. From Hot Springs, Ark., nine Democratic Governors, gathered for the 26th annual Southern Governors' Conference and lukewarm until now, sent Kennedy a telegram of hearty congratulations. ("Unless Kennedy had won the debate," said Virginia's Lindsay Almond, "there would have been no telegram." )Stevenson Democrats, who had been sulking ever since the Convention, showed new enthusiasm for the man who could stand up to Nixon.
Kennedy's street crowds also got bigger - and more enthusiastic. Before the debate newsmen had amused themselves by counting "jumpers" in the crowds - women who hopped up and down at the sight of their handsome hero. Now they noted "double jumpers" (jumpers with babies in their arms) . By week's end they even spotted a few "leapers" who reached prodigious heights.
The change was not yet reflected in the polls. Pollsters, who swarmed down on the viewing public like locusts, found that hardly a vote had been changed by the long-awaited debate. But after all, it had only been Round I of four. This week - Round 2.
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