1992 Townhall Debate

Last night’s townhall debate made me think back to the townhall debate of 1992, which was held in Richmond, Virginia. Sixteen years ago — sixteen years ago! — I was in my second year at the University of Virginia, and I tagged along with some of the University Democrats to Richmond, an hour away, to attend an official Democratic debate-watching party in a crowded hotel ballroom. We watched it on a big screen, cheering Clinton, booing Bush, laughing when debate moderater Carole Simpson just barely hid her sarcasm by referring to Bush as “the education president.”

After the debate, the Clintons and their entourage came over to the hotel. I managed to push my way into the throng of people behind the rope line and shake Clinton’s hand. (I was too short to actually see him, but I stuck my hand in between some people and my hand was shaken.) Bill and Hillary got up onto the podium, Virginia Governor Doug Wilder introduced them. Bill said very little — he was completely hoarse — so Hillary spoke on his behalf.

That debate was a turning point in the 1992 election. Here’s the clip of the most famous moment from that debate.