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Social Studies Middle School

The History of Presidential Debates

In 1908, presidential candidates William Jennings Bryant and William Howard Taft recorded their speeches with new technology at the time—the phonograph. For the first time in history, voters could hear audio recordings of the presidential candidates at mock debates played in penny arcades. Although the use of the phonograph faded away from presidential campaigns, some say this led the way to the mass media coverage of presidential campaigns.

Politics US government

Story Length: 5:33

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National Public Radio © 2008 National Public Radio, Inc. Used with the permission of NPR. All rights reserved.

AIR DATE: 11/01/2008

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