Skip to main content
Month Day
October 06

Bill Clinton debates Bob Dole

On October 6, 1996, Democratic President Bill Clinton faces his Republican challenger, Senator Bob Dole from Kansas, in their first debate of that year’s presidential campaign.

The debate, which took place in Hartford, Connecticut, and was moderated by Jim Lehrer of PBS, gave the candidates a chance to put forth their views on education, the economy, Medicare and tax cuts. Clinton took credit for improving the economy and slashing the budget deficit he had inherited from George H.W. Bush when he took over the presidency in 1992. Dole challenged Clinton’s “ad hoc” approach to foreign affairs, challenged his record on crime and spending and proposed a whopping tax cut of more than $550 billion.

The debate was civil and devoid of personal attacks except on the subject of recreational drug use. Dole criticized Clinton’s policy regarding the illegal importation and use of drugs, saying the president’s chosen drug czar was “soft” on the issue. He then referred to Clinton’s admission during his first presidential campaign that he had tried marijuana in his youth but “didn’t inhale.” Dole asked the crowd “is that the kind of leadership we need? And I won’t comment on other things that happened in your administration or your past about drugs.” Clinton dodged the issue of his own drug experiment, and insisted he agreed with Dole that drugs were a serious problem in America. “We just have a different approach. But let me remind you, my family has suffered from drug abuse. I know what it’s like to see somebody you love nearly lose their life, and I hate drugs, Senator.” Bill Clinton’s half-brother, Roger, had struggled with alcohol and drug addiction and had been arrested for dealing cocaine in 1984.

Dole and Clinton met again to debate on October 16. Polls indicated that most voters considered Clinton the winner of the debates and he handily won re-election to a second term in November.

READ MORE: 7 Things You May Not Know About US Presidential Debates

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.


President Kennedy urges Americans to build bomb shelters

President John F. Kennedy, speaking on civil defense, advises American families to build bomb shelters to protect them from atomic fallout in the event of a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union. Kennedy also assured the public that the U.S. civil defense program would soon more

First Mennonites arrive in America

Encouraged by William Penn’s offer of 5,000 acres of land in the colony of Pennsylvania and the freedom to practice their religion, the first Mennonites arrive in America aboard the Concord. They were among the first Germans to settle in the American colonies. The Mennonites, more

The Reno brothers carry out the first train robbery in U.S. history

On October 6, 1866, the brothers John and Simeon Reno stage the first train robbery in American history, making off with $13,000 from an Ohio and Mississippi railroad train in Jackson County, Indiana. Of course, trains had been robbed before the Reno brothers’ holdup. But these more

Babe Ruth sets a World Series record

On October 6, 1926, Yankee slugger Babe Ruth hits a record three homers against the St. Louis Cardinals in the fourth game of the World Series. The Yanks won the game 10-5, but despite Ruth’s unprecedented performance, they lost the championship in the seventh game. In 1928, in more

The president of Egypt is assassinated

Islamic extremists assassinate Anwar Sadat, the president of Egypt, as he reviews troops on the anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. Led by Khaled el Islambouli, a lieutenant in the Egyptian army with connections to the terrorist group Takfir Wal-Hajira, the terrorists, all wearing more

The Yom Kippur War brings United States and USSR to brink of conflict

The surprise attack by Egyptian and Syrian forces on Israel in October 1973 throws the Middle East into turmoil and threatens to bring the United States and the Soviet Union into direct conflict for the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Though actual combat did more

Austria-Hungary annexes Bosnia-Herzegovina

On October 6, 1908, the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary announces its annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, dual provinces in the Balkan region of Europe formerly under the control of the Ottoman Empire. Though Bosnia and Herzegovina were still nominally under the control of the more