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  Second Carter-Ford Debate
TitleSecond Carter-Ford Debate
Start Date/TimeOctober 06, 1976 08:30pm
End Date/TimeOctober 06, 1976 10:00pm
Last ModifiedChronicler - September 30, 2012 10:12pm
DescriptionThe second Carter-Ford debate took place on 10/6/1976. It was seen as critical by both candidates, as Carter sought to slow his losses in the polls and Ford sought to gain additional ground. A slip of the tongue by President Ford gave Carter the upper hand.

When the League of Women Voters announced that it would sponsor three Presidential debates, it specified that the second one would concentrate on topics of foreign policy [New York Times, 9/2/1976]. The League found it more difficult to raise money for the debates than it expected, so it decided to bring the props from the first debate in Philadelphia to the site of the second debate [NYT 10/6]. The producer of the debate was CBS, which installed three sound systems to negate the possibility that it would lose its sound system as ABC had done in the first debate [NYT 10/6].

The two candidates recognized the importance of the debate and planted seeds in the media in the days leading up to the event. Both candidates happened to spend the day before the debate in Colorado. Carter's tracking polls indicated that he was no longer slipping in the polls after the first debate, partially because the public was more in support of his economic views. He concentrated his attacks on President Ford's cabinet. He particularly criticized Ford for not firing Earl Butz, Agriculture Secretary, for making racist jokes. He also stated that Ford's lack of leadership in foreign policy meant that the then-unpopular SOS Henry Kissinger was making foreign policy decisions for the nation. Ford aimed his attacks at Congress, which mostly ignored his policy recommendations. Butz resigned from the Cabinet, which removed him as a topic of conversation. [NYT 10/6].

The debate was held in the Palace of the Fine Arts in San Francisco, CA. The building, located next to the Golden Gate Bridge, was the sole surviving structure from the Panama Pacific Exposition of 1915 that commemorated the rebuilding of San Francisco following the earthquake and the completion of the Panama Canal. Because of the needs of the camera equipment, seating was limited. The LWV gave out 225 tickets to reporters and 347 for the audience [NYT 10/6].

A last important event took place the day before the debate. The United States Supreme Court did not step in to allow Eugene McCarthy and Lester Maddox to have equal time. They had lost their bids all through the court system and appealled to the highest court. The terse decision by the Court brought this piece of tension to an end and allowed the remaining debates to proceed as planned [NYT 10/6].

Quick Facts
When: 9:30-11:00 p.m. (Eastern), 10/6/1976
Where: Palace of the Fine Arts, San Francisco CA
Moderator: Pauline Frederick (UN correspondent, National Public Radio). Panel: Max Frankel (associate editor, New York Times), Henry L. Trewhitt (diplocatic correspondent, Baltimore Sun), and Richard Valeriani (diplomatic correspondent, NBC News)
Audience size: 63,900,000; broadcast on ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS [Link]
Topic: Foreign policy

Transcript: [Link]

Format: No opening statements; each questioned in turn with three minutes to answer; one optional follow-up question with two minutes to reply; two minute rebuttal; three minute closing statements



Debates of 1976: 1st [Link] - 3d [Link] - VP [Link]

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