Presidential debate: 7 defining moments in history (+video)

From Ronald Reagan’s one-liner, “There you go again,” to Al Gore’s heavy sighs and eye rolls, zingers and mannerisms can define a presidential debate even more than the candidates’ positions on critical issues. Here is a look back at seven defining debate moments.

1992: George Bush vs. Bill Clinton (and Ross Perot)

Three candidates participated in the presidential debates for the first time in 1992: President Bush (R), former Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton (D), and Texas billionaire Ross Perot, running as a third-party candidate.

Mr. Perot had several memorable lines: “The party is over and it’s time for the cleanup crew.” “I don’t have any experience in running up a $4 trillion debt. I don’t have any experience in gridlock government where nobody takes responsibility for anything and everybody blames everybody else.”

But the defining moment of the Bush-Clinton-Perot debates was an unconscious gesture by Bush: During the second debate in Richmond, Va., on Oct. 15, 1992, Bush checked his watch – twice.

The gesture seemed to illustrate Bush's impatience with domestic issues, especially the economy. His presidential approval rating had fallen to about 40 percent as the US struggled to recover from the 1990 recession, and he also reneged on his pledge not to raise taxes.

"They took a little incident like that to show that I was, you know, out of it," Bush said in the 2008 interview with PBS's Mr. Lehrer. "They made a huge thing out of that."

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