When Democrats Stumbled in Presidential Debates: Mistakes Hillary Clinton Should Avoid (Video)

The first general election debate is fast approaching, and with Donald Trump gaining ground in some polls, Hillary Clinton can't make mistakes in the upcoming debates. She could learn about what not to do from previous Democratic nominees, who, one way or another, missed the mark going against the Republican nominee.


Watch: When Democrats didn't win debates... or elections. 

Kerry vs. Bush, 2004

John Kerry tried adamantly to prove he was not "wishy-washy," as described by an audience member. However, his remarks about Saddam Hussein for two different questions appear to counteract each other. 

Gore vs. Bush, 2000

Al Gore's infamous sigh was the loudest in political history. Gore saw Bush as a joke, and thought he wouldn't stand a chance. Big mistake.

Dukakis vs. Bush, 1988 

Michael Dukakis was asked the highly provocative question in the second 1988 presidential debate: "If Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?"

"No, I don't," Dukakis answered matter-of-factly, and went on to defend his unwavering opposition to the dealth penalty. The question ended his campaign, and in 2007 Politico maintained, "it was the most controversial ever asked at a presidential debate."

Mondale vs. Reagan, 1984 

Walter Mondale was relatively unprepared for the first presidential debate, and even more blindsided in the second when Ronald Reagan flipped the script soon after the debate started. Seventy-three-year-old Reagan was asked if he was too old to be president, and he responded brilliantly:

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.

Carter vs. Reagan, 1980

Jimmy Carter, the incumbent president, made the mistake of closing the 1980 debate with a story about discussing the use of nuclear weapons with Amy, his 13-year-old daughter, which caused viewers to jokingly ask who was advising Carter on foreign policy. 

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