The Second College Edition of The American Heritage Dictionary defines debate as; To engage in argument by discussing opposing points (American Heritage,369). Another definition is as follows; a formal contest of argumentation in which two opposing teams defend and attack a given proposition (American Heritage,369). The Random House College Dictionary offers this definition; To engage in formal argumentation or disputation with (another person, group, etc.) (Random House,342).
So which definition is correct? We know a debate is a discussion or an argument. What has to be decided is whether or not it is between two groups or several groups. That same question has arisen in the Presidential debates of the 1996 presidential election campaigns. That question being whether or not Ross Perot and his running mate should have been included in the debates with President Clinton, Bob Dole and their running mates.
In order to answer this question we have to know more about the debates history.
The presidential debates are in place for the public to see and hear what the candidates have to say about issues facing the nation. While debating between presidential candidates has been occurring throughout America's history they were limited to a small audience (Leone,_). However with the 1960 debates between Kennedy and Nixon a whole new world was opened as millions of viewers watched the debates on television (Leone,_). Those first televised debates are generally credited with giving John F. Kennedy the winning margin in a very close presidential race (Leone,_).
Following the 1960 election there were no publicly televised debates until 1976, and since then the debates have become an expected and important feature of presidential campaigns (Leone,_). The confidence of the debates with widespread views of general lack of government legitimacy prompted the formation of the Presidential Debate Commission before the 1988...