SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - One week from Wednesday night, President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent Mitt Romney square off in their first presidential debate.
But 52 years ago, on September 26th, 1960, Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy met in the very first televised presidential debate.
Two candidates and five journalists took part in that 1960 debate.
But only one is still around to talk about it.
His name is Sander Vanocur
Vanocur (Sr.) was based in the Midwest but covered politics all around the country.
In an interview several years ago about the 1960 debate, Sander Vanocur said,
"I was covering Nixon the previous week in Mississippi. I got a call from the desk at NBC in New York saying get to Chicago. You're going to be the NBC representative on the first Nixon-Kennedy debate."
My father remembers several things about that debate.
One was Nixon perspiring and Kennedy looking tan,
"He [Kennedy] had, though we didn't know, some make-up, because one of his aides, Bill Wilson, ran over to Walgreen's drug store and got some pancake. Nixon refused it."
But the other thing my dad remembers, as do others, is asking Vice-President Nixon a very tough question about his presidential qualifications.
"MR. VANOCUR: Mr. Vice President, since the question of executive leadership is a very important campaign issue, I'd like to follow Mr. Novins' question. Now, Republican campaign slogans - you'll see them on signs around the country as you did last week - say it's experience that counts - that's over a picture of yourself; sir uh - implying that you've had more governmental executive decision-making uh - experience than uh - your opponent. Now, in his news conference on August twenty-fourth, President Eisenhower was asked to give one example of a major idea of yours that he adopted. His reply was, and I'm quoting; "If you give me a week I might think of one. I don't remember." Now that was a month ago, sir, and the President hasn't brought it up since, and I'm wondering, sir, if you can clarify which version is correct - the one put out by Republican campaign leaders or the one put out by President Eisenhower?
MR. NIXON: Well, I would suggest, Mr. Vanocur, that uh - if you know the President, that was probably a facetious remark. Uh - I would also suggest that insofar as his statement is concerned, that I think it would be improper for the President of the United States to disclose uh - the instances in which members of his official family had made recommendations, as I have made them through the years to him, which he has accepted or rejected. The President has always maintained and very properly so that he is entitled to get what advice he wants from his cabinet and from his other advisers without disclosing that to anybody - including as a matter of fact the Congress. Now, I can only say this. Through the years I have sat in the National Security Council. I have been in the cabinet. I have met with the legislative leaders. I have met with the President when he made the great decisions with regard to Lebanon, Quemoy and Matsu, other matters. The President has asked for my advice. I have given it. Sometimes my advice has been taken. Sometimes it has not. I do not say that I have made the decisions. And I would say that no president should ever allow anybody else to make the major decisions, the president only makes the decisions. All that his advisers do is to give counsel when he asks for it. As far as what experience counts and whether that is experience that counts, that isn't for me to say. Uh - I can only say that my experience is there for the people to consider; Senator Kennedy's is there for the people to consider. As he pointed out, we came to the Congress in the same year. His experience has been different from mine. Mine has been in the executive branch. His has been in the legislative branch. I would say that the people now have the opportunity to evaluate his as against mine and I think both he and I are going to abide by whatever the people decide.”
Years later, when he was president, Richard Nixon put Sander Vanocur on his White House enemies list.
FOLLOW CHRIS VANOCUR ON TWITTER: @cvan4