An Associated Press panel of debate judges said Lloyd Bentsen emerged a clear victor in his encounter with Dan Quayle and was aided by his impassioned putdown of Quayle for comparing himself to Jack Kennedy.
The Texas senator won a unanimous verdict from the AP's six-judge panel, racking up a 148-125 margin on their scorecards."Quayle really held his own until we got to the John Kennedy" remark, said Melissa Maxcy Wade, director of forensics at Emory University in Atlanta, who scored it 24-22 for Bentsen. "It was like a father putting down a child. I thought the momentum turned then."
"Out of the mouth of another politician, it might have seemed like a mean remark," said James M. Copeland, national executive secretary of the National Forensic League in Ripon, Wis., who scored it 25-22 for Bentsen. But from the "avuncular" Bentsen, it was like "a chiding from your college professor."
James J. Unger, director of the National Forensics Institute at American University in Washington and chairman of the AP panel, who scored it 25-17 for Bentsen, said: "As the evening progressed, viewers saw a transformation. Bentsen seemed to grow more forceful, mature, experienced. He became a leader. Quayle seemed increasingly artificial, tighter, younger, a follower."
"Quayle generally lived down to his expectations," said Unger. "Bentsen lived up to and even above his. In fact, Bentsen made a better case for Mike Dukakis than Dukakis has."
Steven P. Mancuso, director of intercollegiate forensics for the University of Michigan, who scored the debate 23-20 for Bentsen, said: "Bentsen got stronger as the debate progressed."
The AP judges, who watched the debate on television, awarded one to five points in each of six categories: reasoning, evidence, organization, refutation, cross-examination and presentation. A 1 was poor; 2 fair; 3 average; 4 excellent, and 5 superior. The maximum overall score was 180.
Here are the candidates' scores:
19 Reasoning 24
21 Evidence 27
22 Organization 23
19 Refutation 23
21 Cross-Exam. 24
23 Presentation 27
125 TOTAL 148