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Will the first debate be a game changer? History says, not so much

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 3 2012 1:50 p.m. MDT

George H.W. Bush vs. Bill Clinton and Ross Perot, 1992 Next » 5 of 6 « Prev
Associated Press
"It looked like he was bored, that he didn't care about the debate and that underscored the feeling that he wasn't connected to the problems of the people and the country," CNN said of George H.W. Bush's glance at his watch during a 1992 debate.

Although Bush explained the glance by saying he hated debates and was glad it was almost over, the exchange "fueled the contrast with Bill Clinton, who excelled at appearing to empathize more than the Republican," The Washington Post said.

That gaffe, and all of the debates of 1992, had little impact on Bush's standing, Sides wrote at the Washington Monthly. According to political scientist Thomas Holbrook, the second debate may have cost Bush about two points. The 1992 debates may have influenced voter support for third-party candidate Ross Perot more than they altered the structure of the race for Clinton and Bush, according to Gallup data.

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