Top VP debate moments

  • Updated: October 11, 2012 - 8:43 PM

 

The eight vice presidential debates held over the past 36 years have had minimal impact on the election results. Arguably, only one -- Republican Dick Cheney's strong performance against Democrat Joe Lieberman in 2000 -- significantly shifted the polls. Here's a glimpse at some of the stumbles, bumbles and shining moments in previous VP debates.

1. Lloyd Bentsen tells Dan Quayle he's no Jack Kennedy.

Lloyd Bentsen was elected to Congress from Texas in 1950 and served alongside another young lawmaker with higher ambitions, Massachusetts Rep. John F. Kennedy. Flash forward to 1988: Republican vice presidential nominee Dan Quayle, at left, repeatedly invoked Kennedy's name and youthful image. At the debate in Omaha, the Indiana senator, 41, declared that he had as much legislative experience as Kennedy when JFK was elected president in 1960. Bentsen raised his eyebrows at Quayle's assertion -- and was prepared with a devastating rejoinder: "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy." Quayle's "deer in the headlights" look exacerbated the damage.

2. Admiral Stockdale gets lost in space.

Quayle's second debate performance was overshadowed not by his Democratic rival, Al Gore, but by the running mate of third-party contender Ross Perot. Retired Adm. James Stockdale, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, wondered aloud, "Who am I? Why am I here?" Stockdale later said he couldn't hear a question because his hearing aid was not turned on.

3. Bob Dole decries "Democrat wars."

Jimmy Carter's big early lead over incumbent Republican Gerald Ford had dissipated by the time Democrat Walter Mondale faced off with Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, who had replaced Nelson Rockefeller on the 1976 GOP ticket. Dole was a wounded veteran of World War II, but his acerbic assertion that all American military conflicts of the 20th century were "Democrat wars" came as a shock to vets who blamed the Kaiser, Hitler and Kim Il-Sung.

4. Barbara Bush says Geraldine Ferraro is a (rhymes with witch).

Geraldine Ferraro, at right, in 1984 became the first woman nominated for vice president by a major American party. In her debate with Vice President George Bush, she was substantive and aggressive. A little too aggressive for Bush's wife, Barbara. After the debate, the nation's second lady made headlines when she declared that the New York congresswoman was something that "rhymes with witch."

5. John Edwards reminds us that Dick Cheney has a gay daughter.

The award for gratuitous mention of an irrelevant fact goes to 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards. In his debate with Vice President Dick Cheney, Edwards praised the family values of the Cheney family and their willingness "to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter." The bizarre comment didn't have much to do with anything and earned bipartisan condemnation.

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