US First Televised Presidential Debate 1960


president-john-f-kennedy1960 was in fact the first televised Presidential debate in the United States of America. It was between Senator John F Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon a friend of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Vice President Richard Nixon had just recovered from a knee injury after he promised to visit all the fifty states of the country. It was a wrong decision on his part to travel that wide, he was tired and weak and he messed his knee up, and he was admitted into the hospital for two weeks.

Seven weeks to the Elections, 17 million Americans were to watch the debate live, somehow, Vice President  Richard Nixon was nervous, he was asking his handlers funny and stupid questions  while moving around he messed up his knee again, by the time he arrived at the debate, he was in  pain while Kennedy on his own  relaxed by the pools.Nixon

On the television, Senator John Kennedy looked relaxed and presidential, while Nixon was sweating and nervous, honestly  Nixon looked  like a suspect, who might have just robbed a bank and could be arrested by the police that was the look on his face, and in most of the questions he was asked he kept on agreeing with most of the suggestions of Senator Kennedy and on the radio Nixon won the debate but those who saw it on Television gave it to John F Kennedy.

However, Martin Luther King junior a friend of Nixon of many years  few days to the election was arrested it was an opportunity for Richard Nixon to get Dr. King released and that would have help his goodwill with African Americans  he was afraid of what the White voters in the South would do, instead he was working behind the closed door to release his friend.

The arrest of Dr. Martin Luther King junior was a turning point in the presidential election both wives of Nixon and Kings were friends, Senator Jack Kennedy and his Democrat party were not really friends of the Blacks before the arrest. While behind the scene Nixon tried to secure the release of his friend but failed and Kennedy took advantage of it openly.

Senator Kennedy called the wife of King to offer support and VP Nixon did not because he was afraid of the White Governors. Kennedy even moved a step further, he called the Judge in charge of the case to influence the release of Dr. Luther king  despite the objection of his brother and party officials, Kennedy saw the opportunity and he took it, he had nothing to lose, he was down in poll and was projected to lose the election anyway.Martin-Luther-King-2-320

As a result of that the support of Kennedy, the goodwill of Vice President  Nixon among the African Americans  evaporated and that was how the Democrats took the African American  votes till today and Republicans that started the need to free the blacks and civil rights lost to the usurper the Democrats because the Vice President Nixon, the Republican nominee was not smart enough.

However, the election was very close, the first election result came out of the State of Connecticut, Kennedy won, but Nixon picked up in most of the States in the North.  He thought he was going to win, he left for Hawaii to celebrate and came back to back to California in Pajamas drunk ; he went to bed before the result was released thinking he had won the election.

By the time Nixon work up to hear the result of the election, he had lost while he was still sleeping, however,  there were election malpractices  in the states of Texas, and Illinois, many unregistered voters participated to help Kennedy win against Nixon who had the opportunity to contest the result but he refused to challenge it, Kennedy won by one hundred and twenty thousand votes.

It was the votes of the African Americans, the former associates of the Republican Party which VP Nixon messed up because he did not openly support Dr. King at time of his arrest that gave the presidency to Democrats and sealed the friendship till today just as the Democrats went further to grants many rights to the African Americans to further isolate the Republican Party.

Nixon came back to win the Presidency eight years later and he won twice but could not complete the second term because he was forced to resign and was replaced by his Vice President Gerald Ford.


What is the lesson here for Nigeria?


Zents Sowunmi is a New York based writer and author of “The Vultures and the Vulnerable” his books are available on


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