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Politics
Want To Stay Entertained During Tonight’s U.S. Presidential Debate? Why Not Try ‘Debate Bingo’
October 3, 2012
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So, are you planning to watch the U.S. Presidential debate tonight?

Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney head to head, toe to toe, mano-a-mano - with just 34 days left until the election.

Or are you still on the fence? We know how it is. On one hand, you want to be engaged and politically informed about the American campaign. Especially considering, whoever wins the White House could have an impact on Canada.

But on the other hand, 'Titanic: Blood and Steel' is on, not to mention Bachelor Canada! Who can choose?

Well, if you're leaning toward the debate, here's an idea to keep you entertained while you watch - Debate Bingo!

A non-profit, public radio station in New York - WYNC - has come up with an interactive bingo game that people can play as they watch the debate.

Basically, you download a card, fill in your squares as the candidates (or moderators) call out your terms, and then you tweet when you've got a winner (#debatebingo).

And some of the terms are fantastic: Eastwood Empty Chair Reference; Built This/That/It, Birth Certificate. Here's an example of a card.

Tonight's debate is the first of three that are scheduled. The question is - do presidential debates matter anymore or impact the campaign in any meaningful way?

Political analysts spend a lot of time talking about who'll score the "knock out" blow, or change the momentum of a campaign. But does that really happen?

Well, the polling company Gallup looked at its results over the past half-century. Of the nine sets of presidential debates, Gallup found that only twice has a debate truly impacted the outcome of the campaign.

1960: John F. Kennedy vs. Richard Nixon. And 2000: George W. Bush vs Al Gore. Both Kennedy and Bush were trailing in the polls heading into the debates but came back to win the election.

Right now, Romney trails Obama in most polls as his campaign has struggled recently to overcome the perception he's a 'rich guy who's out of touch with regular folks.'

The CBC's Keith Boag has some thoughts on whether the debates matter anymore. You can read his analysis here. And cbc.ca has put together '4 Ways To Pick A Debate Winner'.

Apparently, both Obama and Romney have spent days preparing for tonight. Obama has used Senator John Kerry as a stand-in for Romney. According to ABC News, Kerry has studied years of video showing Romney debating.

Romney also had a stand-in for Obama - Senator Rob Portman. According to the New York Times, Romney has "a series of zingers that he has memorized and has been practising on aides since August."

Of course, if nothing else, a presidential debate can make for some memorable moments, one-liners or screw-ups. Here are some of the best.

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1960: JFK vs Richard Nixon - the first televised debate, 70 million Americans tuned in. Nixon sweat so much, many thought it played a role in losing the election to Kennedy. Famously, those who heard the debate on radio said Nixon won. Those who saw it on TV picked Kennedy by a large margin.

1974: President Gerald Ford vs. Jimmy Carter. Ford said Eastern Europe (Poland specifically) was not, and never would be, dominated by the Soviet Union. But of course, at the time, it was. Time magazine called it "the blooper heard round the world." Carter won the election.

1984: President Ronald Reagan vs. Walter Mondale. Running for a 2nd term, there were concerns about Reagan's age (he was 73 when he was re-elected). Like a classic line out of a movie, Reagan said ""I want you to know also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience." The audience ate it up.

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1992: President George H.W. Bush vs. Bill Clinton vs. Ross Perot (remember him) - After answering a voter's question about the recession, George Bush Sr. looked at his watch


2000: George W. Bush vs. Al Gore - Throughout the debate, Gore continuously sighed creating an impression that he was condescending and easily annoyed. It didn't help much when Gore left his podium several times and came within inches of Bush as he was answering a question.

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2008: Barack Obama vs. John McCain - at one point, McCain referred to Obama as "that one." And during a town hall debate, as Obama was speaking, McCain spent much of his time aimlessly wandering around the stage.

He even managed to walk in front of the camera and get in Tom Brokaw's way. Check out the video below.

Tonight's debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney runs from 9 pm until 10:30 pm ET. You can watch it live on CBC News Network and CBCNews.ca.

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