Saturday, February 24, 2018
Business

How do this year's presidential debate catch phrases compare to those from elections past?

Donald Trump talks about returning to a time when America was great — a superpower that didn't worry about Mexico or China stealing its jobs. Hillary Clinton yearns for those years of economic prosperity when her husband was in the White House and, at least early on, there was a semblance of bipartisanship.

The high degree of base insults and accusations flying during the first two presidential debates may have put some voters in a throwback mood as well. As we head into the third and final presidential debate Wednesday night, here's a look back at how the vernacular has changed compared to those presidential (and vice presidential) showdowns of yester-election year:

1. Then: There you go again.

Now: When they go low, we go high.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Ronald Regan famously used the line "There you go again" while debating Jimmy Carter in 1980. Other pols have used the line during debates in subsequent years, usually to eye-rolling effect.

In the 1980 debate, Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan rebuked President Jimmy Carter for bringing up some issues repeatedly. This year, Hillary Clinton responded to Donald Trump's allegations about her husband's sexual misdeeds by citing First Lady Michelle Obama's refrain from the Democratic convention.

2. Then: Binders full of women.

Now: Basket of deplorables.

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File )

Mitt Romney was instantly lampooned on social media when he said he had "binders full of women" when asked a question in a 2012 debate about equal pay.

In 2012, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney responded to a pay equality question by saying he had "binders full or women," referring to resumes of female job applicants brought to him as governor of Massachusetts. This year, Clinton continues to take flak for a campaign trail comment that half of Trump's supporters could be put into a "basket of deplorables."

3. Then: "I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience."

Now: "I don't believe she does have the stamina" to be president.

Reagan's quip came in the 1984 presidential debates when asked if, at 73, he is too old to be president. During this season's first debate, Trump questioned Clinton's stamina after he was asked about a past comment that Clinton lacked a presidential "look."

4. Then: Voodoo economics.

Now: Trumped-up, trickle-down economics.

In 1980, George H.W. Bush initially used the voodoo economics line against Reagan, his GOP primary opponent. But it was repeated during a presidential debate between Reagan and Carter. This year, Clinton has tried to put a new spin on the notion of trickle-down economics.

5. Then: Lockbox.

Now: Locker rooms.

(AP Photo/Ron Edmonds, File)

Al Gore had lockboxes on the brain during the 2000 debates.

In the 2000 race, Vice President Al Gore repeatedly used the metaphor of creating a "lockbox" to protect Social Security and Medicare. This year, Trump repeatedly dismissed his 1985 caught-on-tape lewd comments about women as locker room talk.

6. Then: "Who am I? Why am I here?"

Now: "Donald, I know you live in your own reality."

In 1992, Independent Ross Perot's largely unknown running mate, Admiral James Stockdale, used this self-deprecating line to open the vice presidential debate. This year, Clinton offered this response to Trump's attack on trade.

7. Then: Where's the beef?

Now: Where's the tax returns?

File photo

Presidential candidate Walter Mondale cited the popular Wendy's "Where's the Beef" commercial in a debate with Gary Hart.

This nugget actually came from a 1984 primary debate but elevated quickly in debate lexicon. Former Vice President Walter Mondale used the popular Wendy's slogan to question the substance of plans by rival Gary Hart. This year, there are recurring questions about why Trump has not released his tax returns following suit with previous presidential candidates.

8. Then: Thousand points of light.

Now: 33,000 deleted emails.

File photo

Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Dukakis couldn't overcome George H.W. Bush in 1988, despite Bush's oft-lampooned "thousand points of light" speech. On Saturday Night Live, comedian Jon Lovitz memorably portrayed Dukakis saying "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy!" after listening to him ramble through that speech.

George H.W. Bush had already used his "thousand points of light" reference to American volunteers and clubs during the Republican convention before it was lampooned by SNL during the 1988 showdown between Bush and Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis. This year, one of the numbers repeatedly in the limelight are the emails that a manager deleted from Clinton's private email server.

9. Then: You're no Jack Kennedy.

Now: You're the devil.

Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, who pointed out that he knew Jack Kennedy, delivered this memorable put-down of Sen. Dan Quayle during the 1988 vice presidential debate. During a heated moment of this year's second debate, Trump said Bernie Sanders signed on with "the devil" in backing Clinton and also told Clinton she has "tremendous hate in your heart."

10. Then: America watched to see how much Nixon would sweat.

Now: America watched to see if Hillary would stumble or Donald would sniff.

File photo

Vice president Richard Nixon pauses to wipe his face with handkerchief during his debate with his opponent Sen. John Kennedy at a Chicago television studio in 1960. The debate showed the power of television, as those who listened to it on the radio thought Nixon won, while those who saw it on TV thought Kennedy won. Nixon was sweaty and agitated during the debate, while Kennedy gave off a calmer and more poised look.

The first televised presidential debate in 1960 juxtaposed a sweating Richard Nixon next to a youthful, collected John F. Kennedy. This year, social media was abuzz watching for signs of Clinton's ailing health (after she stumbled after a Sept. 11 event and was temporarily off the campaign trail with pneumonia) and speculating about why Trump has been sniffing onstage.

   
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