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These chairs were used by nominees John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon in the first televised debate between presidential candidates. More accurately described as a joint press conference by today's standards, it was a signal event in the history of television and electoral campaigning. Following the debate, CBS president Frank N. Stanton had a commemorative silver plate attached to the back of each chair, identifying its user.

The series of four Nixon/Kennedy debates established new standards and expectations for candidate preparation, performance, and appearance. When asked at a press conference the day after the election whether his victory would have been possible without the help of television, Kennedy replied "I don't think so." The 1960 presidential election ushered in a new era of political strategy with the realization of television's power to sway public opinion.

Kennedy-Nixon debate studio
"Coffee with Kennedy" paper cup
The Women's Committee of the Democratic National Committee distributed specially made "Coffee with Kennedy" cups for voters to use while watching its morning television program, "Coffee with Senator and Mrs. John F. Kennedy."
Television monitors
To monitor the nightly newscasts of the three major networks--NBC, CBS, and ABC--President Lyndon Johnson had a special console of three televisions installed in the Oval Office.

Courtesy of Lyndon Baines Johnson Library

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