Raw footage for The 90's election specials. Behind the scenes at the first Presidential debate between George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Ross Perot at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. The tape mostly focuses on campaign manager David Wilhelm working after the debate at campaign headquarters.
00:00Copy video clip URL A brief view of the “spin room” where the media awaits the candidates’ responses to their debate performances. When the tape opens, one of Clinton’s campaign workers speaks with a reporter. Clinton’s speechwriter is very pleased overall.
04:00Copy video clip URL Clinton campaign manager David Wilhelm works back at campaign headquarters. He chats with other workers about Bush’s performance and prepares for phone interviews.
14:00Copy video clip URL At the campaign headquarters, Wilhelm conducts a series of phone interviews with news shows and promotes Clinton, repeatedly characterizing his performance as “presidential”: “Bill Clinton dominated the debate from a serious policy standpoint… There were no real low moments for us… Bill Clinton achieved every strategic goal we set for the debate… He was confident, he was presidential… Millions of American voters have been turned off by George Bush…” He pushes Clinton as the true candidate for economic change. “The contrast between ‘hope for the future’ and ‘more of the same’ couldn’t be more clear.” He says essentially the same thing during every interview.
43:52Copy video clip URL Phone interviews over, videomaker Skip Blumberg asks Wilhelm, hypothetically, what he would say if Clinton hadn’t performed well. Wilhelm says that he would tell the truth and then focus on the next debate. Campaign chair Mickey Kantor does a TV interview.
47:53Copy video clip URL Texas Governor Ann Richards stops by to congratulate the team on the debate, and mentions an ABC post-debate poll, which said that Bush drastically declined in percentage. Though Clinton declined by one percentage point, his margin increased.
51:09Copy video clip URL Kantor on TV, as Wilhelm prepares to appear on TV. The team continues to discuss the poll results.
01:00:14Copy video clip URL End of tape.