Functions of the great debates: Acclaims, attacks, and defenses in the 1960 presidential debates
This study applies the functional theory of political campaign rhetoric to investigate the classic 1960 Nixon‐Kennedy debates. All three kinds of utterances appeared in these debates (acclaims were most common at 49%, attacks followed at 39%, and defenses comprised 12% of their themes). The candidate from the incumbent party, Vice President Nixon, acclaimed more, whereas the challenger, Senator Kennedy, attacked, more. The candidate who was the target of the most attack, Nixon, produced the most defense. Both candidates directed more of their remarks to policy than character. Past deeds were a major component of Nixon's acclaims and Kennedy's attacks. General goals and ideals were more frequently the basis of acclaims than attacks. The most common form of defense in these debates was denial.
The version of record can be found through Taylor and Francis.
Benoit, William L. and Harthcock, Allison, "Functions of the great debates: Acclaims, attacks, and defenses in the 1960 presidential debates" (1999). Scholarship and Professional Work - Communication. 77.