The Nine Most Memorable Debate Moments

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Ronald Reagan: "I am paying for this microphone."


In the 1980 primaries the Federal Elections Committee ruled that a newspaper-sponsored debate between just two candidates (Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush) that excluded other contenders, constituted an improper campaign contribution. So Reagan’s campaign decided to foot the bill, but then switched gears on Bush and the Nashua Telegraph by inviting the other candidates to participate. The night of the debate, however, only two chairs were provided — for Bush and Reagan. Reagan marched on stage with Bob Dole, Howard Baker, John Anderson, and Phil Crane anyway and chaos ensued. Editor Jon Breen, the debate moderator, instructed the sound technician to cut off Reagan’s microphone. “I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Green!” thundered Reagan, as the audience roared its approval. The Gipper had mangled the editor’s name, but he’d scored a touchdown nonetheless.



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