starsJim Lehrer hosts Debating Our Destiny
A look at the pivotal moments from the last 48 years of presidential debates through the eyes of those who were there.
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"There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration." - President Gerald Ford
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Transcripts: After a 16-year hiatus, President Gerald Ford agreed to debate Democratic challenger former Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter in a televised series of debates. Ford was sagging in the polls having continued to face voter anger over his pardoning of former President Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate affair. Carter, a little-known southern governor, hoped the debates would thrust him into the lead. In the end, it was the president's handling of a question about Poland that would emerge as the seminal moment from the debates -- debates that set the expectation that candidates should always meet and tackle the issues of the day before a nationally televised audience.

This version of the report aired as part of the original Debating Our Destiny documentary in 2000.

Candidate Interviews

Presidents Ford and Carter

Jimmy Carter (D),


Gerald Ford (R),


Walter Mondale (D),
Vice President


Bob Dole (R),
United States Senator (KS)


Debate Transcripts

First Presidential Debate - Sepetember 23,1976
Main Topic - Domestic policy

Second Presidential Debate - October 6,1976
Main Topic - Foreign and defense issues

Third Presidential Debate - October 22,1976

Vice Presidential Debate - October 15,1976

Transcripts: Commision on Presidential Debates

Produced by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions in association with the Commission on Presidential Debates and WETA

Debating Our Destiny is brought to you, in part, by: Chevron

Copyright 2008 MacNeil/Lehrer Productions
MacNeil/Lehrer Productions