Also in this playlist...
This transcript is automatically generated
-- -- -- -- -- Inside the presidential debates and Kennedy -- to Obama McCain.
Of course longtime host of the news hour.
On that PBS and have contributed you miss the data -- hosting.
You know I do what I don't you know I I sometimes you know why you're the from the sound of the fire truck got not literally but.
It's symbolically and idle -- and it's -- wonder whether America going.
And then -- -- I think angle back to sleep -- that is the kind of it's a double edged sword in I'm very happy actually.
Jim -- of course is known for -- among other things having moderated so many of the presidential debates.
And when you see the debates that -- like we have a debate every ten minutes now seem like there all the time.
And the do you that's what this book is about tension city do you do you watch these debates and take notes and say just be doing it this way I would do it -- All I don't think notes but I'd certainly like -- very interest that -- married today.
They they they continued to evolved and changed.
Everybody's looking for a new format and now they're always new candidates and their both candidates that they have come back and it's always it's always fun to watch it -- And I was George Bush 41 who gave me the name tension city right.
Yeah well I would I I yeah I would -- I was really fortunate in that.
By the opportunity.
The privilege I -- to -- -- -- just about every presidential or vice presidential candidate.
Participated one of these televised debates and was able to talk to them about their debate experience -- all about stock majorities than bush is about.
He was out of the White House maybe I don't know seven or eight years by then.
And I said.
All the things like you know what do you know some really simulating.
And it -- The things they -- -- city.
And up -- said.
I added you'll appreciate -- -- I had but might working title for this book I'm working on could have three years the working title was moderator.
And I -- always saw this book is called moderator noted my editor want him editor called me that you know that we've been talking -- random house.
We're not -- moderator worked as a title until and I putted it has let it go.
Think it would you book a book called -- and I did okay that I remember he's had come over them out that began -- now remember that line from.
George generation of bush and as -- again.
I had a good I think it's a pretty good title maybe one of -- -- security to be prohibited -- What you got you into a little trouble now in the 2000 debate with George H.
Bush and in the -- people complain.
-- -- -- -- a chunk of the book is about that that incident.
Where they were not too happy with the yell -- that would that -- George W.
That was George W Johnson the -- that we can't 2000 again Larry I -- is next night.
You know you give people became negative which is big stuff out there and know the idea I get I get in trouble -- in December got to travel they didn't the gore people.
Went after me a little bit day and night in the press sense but that goes with the territory I've been criticized.
All the time I don't particularly like get him back my kids have said that my -- is that you're the one thing you know -- can't handle well it's criticism.
And though that's certainly not predict that.
Good night at the gore people of sent about.
Well they were -- they thought that I did -- they were corrected one thing I had.
Hey I in rebuttal in the prior I had Bob moderate all the debates in the year 2000 between George W.
Bush and Al Gore -- -- -- In the second debate.
I made some reference there may be the person -- -- made some reference and follow up to the fact that.
-- and gore aides said -- and an advertisement in a television ad.
And they came back at me and said Dell analyzes television it was in its nose in a press statement.
So what they'll do them -- it's I think I corrected it on the air in the next debate now that and then they.
They -- that we're trying to you know some of these you remember these handlers for these candidates.
They only have one purpose.
And that is to win and they would try to play a little intimidation game it may in which is understand you know that's what they -- do I mean -- And yeah knowing as well gore surrogates like you have a -- the book where Bob Kerrey.
Apparently left UA.
Course it's a negative things about due to the New York Times and then left and apologetic message on your answering machine.
Yeah I said that He got -- said that lay out border from the times called in they needed some really hot about Lara to make the story work and.
And silly game a quote and and I'd known Kerry for a long long time since seen by our first interview -- of the Vietnam War Nebraska when He was.
An angry at Vietnam vet yeah and congressional medal of honor of the medal of honor and now Vietnam.
And I had followed his career all the way through -- was governor when senator all of that and.
I consider him a very idea not a friend politically and it's certainly not a political parameter -- -- -- -- Emmanuel and and and respected.
And I was really.
I get just -- -- -- did dad why would take a hit on me and Billy explained it -- that He was a surrogate for gore and gore people that seem to do this.
And got to that you've got to the time before it says that's I tell the story about it in the book yeah.
What's interesting to me about these debates it's not always a substance that gets people to react it's those little moments like -- you talk about this in the book.
Bush look glancing at his watch clearly not wanting to be there which seemed dismissive to so many Americans -- -- -- you know that really -- It did -- you know Bill Clinton made ignition point an interview I did with him about that about the debates period but He said.
Did -- there's there was a presumption already about bush if -- for is in good.
It didn't make the point that He implicated like I would if I Clinton had looked at my watch.
It would have been a problem.
But 'cause there was this feeling about purity of but He was disconnected from the real world from real people.
When He look at -- watched.
Well a pity you know He was and I -- simply a Georgia is everybody's about data and won't let all the bodies of people February that bore -- you -- -- need to well.
I already did look at a -- to -- -- -- -- this thing that a meal.
Not as they tackle if bush was only ten more minutes of this crap I think -- -- I think as an -- and Ronald Reagan when He said there you go again that that didn't seem like -- was a -- line and yet that really resonated with people.
-- -- And everybody thought it was a planned line I asked Reagan -- has straightened straightforwardly -- said it was that a pilot no no no no no I just came to me and you know He had to take -- yet to take all these things live but -- people tell you.
One of the plan lines that was when Ronald Reagan said.
I will not make a deal -- big deal of my opponent's youth and inexperience when the issue of Reagan's age became an issue.
Yeah how well I think -- -- prepare behind -- -- He was pleasantly.
You know because even -- He was immediately and that outlook and the question about because you don't remember -- -- done very poorly in the first debate with Mondale and He -- being tired and just ended disoriented and all that.
And here and I asked him about that and -- -- not what I'm tired He said I would just over prepared us.
You know they had just drilled -- -- bill Meehan.
As good good advancement equipment ethical undoubtedly what's the right answer and and -- -- on this next debate I just decided no no drilling no word no preparation and he's gonna -- it.
And that -- that He did so much better.
Jim Lehrer -- I guess about fiscal tensions sitting inside the presidential debates from Kennedy Nixon to Obama McCain what is the best.
Format for these -- You know I think -- that they the request that the estimated credit format as part -- -- when it was -- at least the first step 2008.
McCain Obama debate where they question and I moderated that the the.
You that you ask a question there's a question.
And the printed for the first candidate maybe estimated to answer of the -- candidates maybe has admitted to respond and then you have anywhere from five to nine minutes.
Does that do to discuss that question and maybe move on to another question and -- at the same way.
And -- worked out well because.
It was -- financial crisis has just begun when this was in September 2008.
And the financial -- -- book but neither.
McCain nor Obama came to say a lot about it they didn't have a lot to say and they were just they -- like everybody else on the what was going on here.
And but the format itself I think it -- if it's allowed to get to get some -- and get some.
Some resonance and some some good use I think it will it would probably be the best.
How does a moderator prepare.
Well you prepare with that with two things in -- number one new -- -- -- he'll make a fool of yourself.
-- don't embarrass yourself.
But did you also but more importantly wanna make sure that you don't do anything that affects the outcome of the debate and -- the election.
And the first thing you do that you -- in front of -- mirror and you say.
This is not about me this is not -- me.
I have a big belief that everybody's the moderator for presidential vice presidential debate should have a really good job already had the best job in television.
Just not auditioning for another one.
And not trying to draw attention to themselves.
Because I always believe this somebody's talking about me after a debate tonight -- -- a single -- they already talking about the candidates they say that with a moderate is there to do.
Are -- debates we think the moderator has failed on that score.
OO -- Yes no -- -- -- you know there there are sometimes I think we're moderator got a little carried away.
And forgot that his or her role as to to be.
Not heard quite so much that you know everybody to have to do -- -- What moderator was that well -- initials.
-- -- no initials involved but not so do you what do you make of the current crop of candidates and we will examine declare Obama is like getting a challenge on his side will we see these there's a Tea Party debate.
There's a fox debate is CNN debate there's debate you know and and then as it struggled -- this jockey who gets into the debates Europe for example Gary Johnson former new Mexican governor finally gets into the -- debate this week.
He considered and the other wants a that's a big issue who gets in and who's out.
Well I think -- that's just terrific I think it's good for the process.
I think is good news for the million in 2008.
Because both parties you know party had an incumbent.
There were forty.
Primary debates forty different debate -- Democrat and Republican.
And I think that's terrific I think get the week indicates a Barack Obama.
The first debates He was a terrible debater but by the time He got toward the end he's getting better and better and better and better.
And and and I am sure this what's gonna happen with the Republicans this time you see the progress of these candidates.
You see their their confidence level.
That the -- their competence to stand there and that take it didn't and and go with the flow and it's a good thing.
-- some cases you say go the other way and they realizes realization that they are they're not ready for to be in this particular.
Group of people running for president and it's.
Absolutely right -- it goes both ways and also because -- a variety of debates are a variety of formats and.
And is that it's a good thing to experimental and various.
You -- various ways of doing them.
That's a great stories great anecdotes and great book called -- sitting inside the presidential debates and Kennedy Nixon to Obama McCain.
Jim Lehrer thank you very much time and it was -- -- -- sir thank you thank you.
Filter by section