Debating Our Destiny: Reflections on the Impact of Presidential Debates

BY Leah Clapman  October 4, 2012 at 8:48 AM EDT

As Wednesday night’s showdown between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney demonstrates, presidential debates are an integral part of the election process. Every four years since 1976, America’s attention has been fixed on the candidates as they thrust and parry their ideas and campaign messages. If an informed electorate is essential to the preservation of our democracy, these debates are a classroom for the citizenry.

With that in mind, MacNeil-Lehrer Productions (the producer of the PBS NewsHour) has developed “Debating Our Destiny.” It began with documentaries in 2000 and 2008. Now, MLP has created a line of books and videos chronicling the history of the modern presidential and vice presidential debates.

The enhanced, multi-touch e-book was produced for the iPad. It begins with a video foreword by Jim Lehrer, a man who knows a lot about the subject. Here is an excerpt:

The e-book (also available in Kindle, Nook and paperback versions) and DVD set contain first-hand accounts from people who ran for president and vice president of the United States from 1976-2004. In very candid interviews with Jim Lehrer, they talk about their debate triumphs and failures and why they like debates… or don’t. Their views are starkly different, as in this excerpt from interviews with father and son, President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush: