The Very First Televised Presidential Debate

Photos of the 1960 debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.

Before Donald Trump was driving network ratings, televised presidential debates were uncharted territory for White House hopefuls.

Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Richard Nixon were the first presidential candidates to enter millions of American homes through the intimacy of a TV. Held at a CBS studio in Chicago, their first debate ran for 59 minutes and covered education, health care, farming, the economy, labor, and the Cold War.

Kennedy was largely considered the debate's winner by those who watched; however, those who listened to the debate via radio broadcast tended to prefer Nixon. The former's well-executed performance is at least partially credited for his eventual presidential win.

A full video of the debate can be found on the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum website.

Democratic Sen. John Kennedy (left) and Republican Vice President Richard Nixon (right) as they debated campaign issues at a Chicago television studio on Sept. 26, 1960. Moderator Howard K. Smith is at desk in center.  (AP Photo)
Nixon wipes his face with a handkerchief during the nationally televised first of four presidential debates with Kennedy in Chicago. For the first time in U.S. history, the debate between presidential candidates was shown on television.  (AP Photo)
Kennedy and Nixon after the debate.  (AP Photo)
Jacqueline Kennedy tunes in to the debate at her home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, hosting a group of Democratic officials and friends at a watch party.  (AP Photo/Bill Chaplis)
Jacqueline Kennedy (left center) sits in her living room with a group of Democrats watching the debate.  (AP Photo/Bill Chaplis)
Mrs. Kennedy watching the debate. (AP Photo/Bill Chaplis)
AP Photo
Jacqueline Kennedy watching the debate with Harvard professor Archibald Cox.  (AP Photo/Bill Chaplis)
Kennedy goes over his notes and Nixon stands in the rear of a television studio in Chicago before the debate.  (AP Photo)
Nixon leaves the lectern as Kennedy sits at left. Moderator Smith is partially hidden behind Kennedy's lectern. Two of the panelists are seated at right.  (AP Photo)
The program director gives directions to Kennedy and Nixon before the debate. News producer Don Hewitt is at center in photo. (AP Photo)
AP Photo
AP Photo