The first great debate: Nixon vs. Kennedy, 1960. [video]

Above is the full recording, nearly an hour, of the very first televised presidential debate. It happened 53 years ago tonight, on September 26, 1960, and featured the Republican candidate, sitting Vice President Richard M. Nixon, and the Democratic candidate, Senator John F. Kennedy. This debate was pivotal both to the outcome of the 1960 election and how presidential politics in America changed in the television era. It’s truly a classic piece of history.

This debate, the first of four, was held in Chicago in a television studio and was moderated by news anchor Howard K. Smith. The debate is famous in political history for showing the world how TV affected politics. Richard Nixon had recently gotten out of the hospital, and he didn’t shave right before he went on camera. As a result, he looked a bit haggard, and the five o’clock shadow didn’t look good in the crisp…

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