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Scoring the Debates: Experts Say What Went Wrong, and What Might

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With one debate behind them, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis and Vice-President George Bush are locked in a presidential race that may still be a cliff-hanger. Is either capable of a decisive move that could swing the voters his way? To find out, correspondent Marilyn Balamaci invited a panel of pundits to critique the candidates’ earlier performances and to offer advice on this week’s debate in Los Angeles. Patrick Buchanan is a conservative columnist and formerly an aide in both the Nixon and the Reagan White Houses. Edward J. Rollins headed the 1984 Reagan-Bush campaign and the unsuccessful 1988 primary campaign of Republican Congressman Jack Kemp. Charles Guggenheim served as media consultant to both Democrats and moderate Republicans. R. Harrison Hickman is a Democratic pollster and consultant. John Chancellor is the senior commentator on NBC News. Richard N. Goodwin, author of Remembering America: A Voice from the Sixties, helped coach John F. Kennedy for his historic 1960 television debates with Richard Nixon. Washington satirist Art Buchwald writes a syndicated column. John Sears was one of Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign managers. Tom Shales is the Pulitzer Prize-winning television critic of the Washington Post.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]