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Historical Presidential Nominees (since 1900) on How They'd like rank as debaters had debates existed since 1900


vcczar
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  1. Theodore Roosevelt -- no flaws at all in debate. Whirlwind and intellectual. Magisterial.
  2. FDR -- Like my description of Clinton below, but even more convincing of a speaker and less likely to be provoked. Ideal. 
  3. B Clinton -- a killer on the debate stage -- mixed humor, humanity, facts, and cutting remarks. Almost ideal. 
  4. Wilson -- magnetic debater on policy, history, and on human passion, but too professiorial to rise higher on this ranking. 
  5. Nixon -- Contrary to JFK beating him, he was quite solid. No logical or verbal flaws, but not charismatic. 
  6. Reagan -- the king of debate sound bites. 
  7. JFK -- Won his debate more on physical polish and charisma. No real flaws but no real sound bites. 
  8. Obama -- magnetic speaker but only above average to good on debate.
  9. Bryan -- possibly the most magnetic speaker on this list, but doesn't logically connect the dots. 
  10. Carter -- Smart. Knew his stuff, but was hampered mainly by a bad record to defend. 
  11. Wilkie -- Despite not being a politician, he was very conversationally saavy and likable. FDR even wanted him in his administration despite being his rival. 
  12. Truman -- had a lot of common's man energy while also knowing what to say and when to say it. 
  13. Taft -- Won't make a single mistake, but too affable to employ a killer instinct. 
  14. Dewey -- Smart prosecutor. Might be kind of plastic but would have delivered on substance. 
  15. McKinley -- Same as Dewey but not prosecutorial. 
  16. Bush I -- similar to Kerry below but more resembling of an accountant than a crypt-keeper
  17. Hoover -- If not for his record, would likely have been a sound debater on policy, but his delivery would have been unmemorable. 
  18. Kerry -- Fairly strong on policy but has the charisma of a crypt-keeper
  19. McCain -- Has a hard time connecting with voters; forgets their names when talking to them in town halls. Often strong though.  
  20. Hughes -- likely great on policy and convincing , but can't connect with humans. 
  21. Perot -- Was very good at saying what appeared needed to be said, but was off the wall at some times. 
  22. Romney -- About the same as Obama, but less chance of magnetism. 
  23. Bush II -- Little depth, but seems very likable in his reponses, which is a kind of magnetism. 
  24. Dukakis -- Similar to Hillary Clinton below, but was less insulting. 
  25. H Clinton -- strong with policy but unmagnetic
  26. Biden --  gaffe prone and rambles; atleast shows compassion. 
  27. McGovern -- similar to Mondale, but had optimism. 
  28. Eisenhower -- unmagnetic as a speaker, but better than Gore. 
  29. Gore -- more unmagnetic than Hillary Clinton
  30. Mondale -- not memorable, but made few gaffes.
  31. LBJ -- likely would have made few mistakes, but would have had little charisma. 
  32. Stevenson -- boring egghead, but smart. 
  33. Trump -- sets himself on fire, but is exciting to people that would already die for him. Comes off as an idiot but is entertaining. 
  34. Dole -- In his younger days, he might have been solid, but Dole came off as just plain old without the likability. Somehow, he's still alive. 
  35. Ford -- often slipped on basic information, fumbled his words like Biden, but lacked the compassion. 
  36. Goldwater -- never got to debate, but was liable to set himself on fire in a way that was even more inappropriate for his time. 
  37. Cox -- forgettable, no urgency, but sometimes a good speaker. 
  38. Landon -- As boring as Stevenson but less intelligent. 
  39. Coolidge -- Only says three words at a debate. 
  40. Davis -- more boring than Landon. 
  41. Harding -- Imagine Biden's penchant for rambling but without any knowledge of policy in any reasonable amount of depth. Think the debate child of Biden and Trump. 
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8 hours ago, vcczar said:
  1. Theodore Roosevelt -- no flaws at all in debate. Whirlwind and intellectual. Magisterial.
  2. FDR -- Like my description of Clinton below, but even more convincing of a speaker and less likely to be provoked. Ideal. 
  3. B Clinton -- a killer on the debate stage -- mixed humor, humanity, facts, and cutting remarks. Almost ideal. 
  4. Wilson -- magnetic debater on policy, history, and on human passion, but too professiorial to rise higher on this ranking. 
  5. Nixon -- Contrary to JFK beating him, he was quite solid. No logical or verbal flaws, but not charismatic. 
  6. Reagan -- the king of debate sound bites. 
  7. JFK -- Won his debate more on physical polish and charisma. No real flaws but no real sound bites. 
  8. Obama -- magnetic speaker but only above average to good on debate.
  9. Bryan -- possibly the most magnetic speaker on this list, but doesn't logically connect the dots. 
  10. Carter -- Smart. Knew his stuff, but was hampered mainly by a bad record to defend. 
  11. Wilkie -- Despite not being a politician, he was very conversationally saavy and likable. FDR even wanted him in his administration despite being his rival. 
  12. Truman -- had a lot of common's man energy while also knowing what to say and when to say it. 
  13. Taft -- Won't make a single mistake, but too affable to employ a killer instinct. 
  14. Dewey -- Smart prosecutor. Might be kind of plastic but would have delivered on substance. 
  15. McKinley -- Same as Dewey but not prosecutorial. 
  16. Bush I -- similar to Kerry below but more resembling of an accountant than a crypt-keeper
  17. Hoover -- If not for his record, would likely have been a sound debater on policy, but his delivery would have been unmemorable. 
  18. Kerry -- Fairly strong on policy but has the charisma of a crypt-keeper
  19. McCain -- Has a hard time connecting with voters; forgets their names when talking to them in town halls. Often strong though.  
  20. Hughes -- likely great on policy and convincing , but can't connect with humans. 
  21. Perot -- Was very good at saying what appeared needed to be said, but was off the wall at some times. 
  22. Romney -- About the same as Obama, but less chance of magnetism. 
  23. Bush II -- Little depth, but seems very likable in his reponses, which is a kind of magnetism. 
  24. Dukakis -- Similar to Hillary Clinton below, but was less insulting. 
  25. H Clinton -- strong with policy but unmagnetic
  26. Biden --  gaffe prone and rambles; atleast shows compassion. 
  27. McGovern -- similar to Mondale, but had optimism. 
  28. Eisenhower -- unmagnetic as a speaker, but better than Gore. 
  29. Gore -- more unmagnetic than Hillary Clinton
  30. Mondale -- not memorable, but made few gaffes.
  31. LBJ -- likely would have made few mistakes, but would have had little charisma. 
  32. Stevenson -- boring egghead, but smart. 
  33. Trump -- sets himself on fire, but is exciting to people that would already die for him. Comes off as an idiot but is entertaining. 
  34. Dole -- In his younger days, he might have been solid, but Dole came off as just plain old without the likability. Somehow, he's still alive. 
  35. Ford -- often slipped on basic information, fumbled his words like Biden, but lacked the compassion. 
  36. Goldwater -- never got to debate, but was liable to set himself on fire in a way that was even more inappropriate for his time. 
  37. Cox -- forgettable, no urgency, but sometimes a good speaker. 
  38. Landon -- As boring as Stevenson but less intelligent. 
  39. Coolidge -- Only says three words at a debate. 
  40. Davis -- more boring than Landon. 
  41. Harding -- Imagine Biden's penchant for rambling but without any knowledge of policy in any reasonable amount of depth. Think the debate child of Biden and Trump. 

I mostly agree. Some changes I would make would be moving Thomas Dewey much farther down on account of his vacillating and “safe” stances (“America is getting more and more prosperous by the day”), which would be a massive vulnerability on a debate stage. I’m not convinced on Wilson, but I don’t know enough about his debating skills to challenge that position, so I’ll assume you know something I don’t. I would move Trump slightly up because I think his ability to get soundbites (“only Rosie O’Donnell” “That’s because I’m smart” “Because you’d be in jail”) etc etc gives him an edge. 

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44 minutes ago, Zenobiyl said:

I mostly agree. Some changes I would make would be moving Thomas Dewey much farther down on account of his vacillating and “safe” stances (“America is getting more and more prosperous by the day”), which would be a massive vulnerability on a debate stage. I’m not convinced on Wilson, but I don’t know enough about his debating skills to challenge that position, so I’ll assume you know something I don’t. I would move Trump slightly up because I think his ability to get soundbites (“only Rosie O’Donnell” “That’s because I’m smart” “Because you’d be in jail”) etc etc gives him an edge. 

Would agree. Wilson too high up, Trump to far down. Also think LBJ could be higher up as well.

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Goldwater should be way higher. He was actually a pretty good speaker and wasn't controversial for his time. He was a member of the NAACP and supported the earlier Civil Rights Act, just not the later one. LBJ was afraid to debate him.

I'd also flip Wilson and Reagan (had proper intellectual ability mixed with humor and natural charisma and present ability from acting days) but I'd say this is pretty accurate. Especially the Nixon one (which i still wonder why he declined to debate in 68 and 72 because he probably would have won every one).

I think Bush II was underrated especially when he nodded at Al Gore invading his space lmao.

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37 minutes ago, pilight said:

Are we talking a televised debate where FDR has to stand for hours at a time?

He wore leg braces and held on to podiums when speaking at length. 

27 minutes ago, ThePotatoWalrus said:

Goldwater should be way higher. He was actually a pretty good speaker and wasn't controversial for his time. He was a member of the NAACP and supported the earlier Civil Rights Act, just not the later one. LBJ was afraid to debate him.

I'd also flip Wilson and Reagan (had proper intellectual ability mixed with humor and natural charisma and present ability from acting days) but I'd say this is pretty accurate. Especially the Nixon one (which i still wonder why he declined to debate in 68 and 72 because he probably would have won every one).

I think Bush II was underrated especially when he nodded at Al Gore invading his space lmao.

Goldwater was exceptionally controversial for his time. He had like 20% in the polls versus LBJ at one time. Even his own party considered him too extreme. He was basically a 3rd party running with the GOP platform, sort of like Trump, but without whatever Trump has. 

I agree Nixon should have debated, although Humphrey and McGovern weren't easy prey. Speaking of which, I forgot to put Humphrey on my list. 

Yeah, the Bush nod made Gore look really awkward. Gore was such a terrible candidate. Basically, Dems screwed up twice, a president leaves office with an upswinging economy and a good approval rating only to have an underwhelming successor clinch defeat from the jaws of victory. Al Gore was just so bad employing human behavior. The only reason he invaded Bush's space was because the media was saying he was being too passive in the debate. He over compensates by acting like he's going to club Bush over the head. Later, they told Gore that he should show affection to his wife to show some humanity. He ends up kissing his wife--making out really-- in front of the camera as if he had only seen kissing from high school prom movies. I think about any other major Democrat would have won in 2000 because of Clinton's performance as president. I think about any major Democrat other than Hillary Clinton would have won in 2016, at least if the nominee for the GOP was still Trump. 

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