Press-Republican

FYI...

October 23, 2012

Slate's Explainer: Do candidates color coordinate?

Many astute readers have noticed that President Obama wore a blue tie in the first debate and a red tie in the second debate. Mitt Romney did the opposite, wearing a red tie in the first encounter and a blue tie in the second. Do the candidates communicate before the debate to make sure they're not wearing the same thing?

No. It seems to be blind luck that Obama and Romney swapped tie colors in the first two debates. There is no record of wardrobe coordination between presidential campaigns, and the candidates don't see each other until they walk onto the stage. In fact, matching ties seem to be more the rule than the exception. Obama and John McCain both wore red ties in one of the 2008 debates, although McCain wore a light blue shirt instead of white. John Kerry and George W. Bush both went with dark suits, white shirts, and red ties in a 2004 debate. George W. Bush and Al Gore wore matching suits in 2000. Bill Clinton and Bob Dole went with different shades of red in 1996.

Presidential candidates don't have particularly eclectic interests in neckwear, largely because they don't want their clothing to be the focus of post-debate chatter. The last time a candidate made a big deal about his tie was at the 1976 vice presidential debate, when advisers recommended that Bob Dole change his after a pre-debate screen test. Dole invited reporters to join him and his new wife on a trip to a Houston department store to select a replacement. Back then, candidates went out of their way to show the press how relaxed they were on the day of the debate. (Walter Mondale, for his part, let reporters film him playing tennis before his clash with Dole.)

Wardrobe concerns are as old as the presidential debates themselves. When Richard Nixon came out for his technical check before the first televised presidential debate in 1960, producers realized that his light gray suit was an uncanny match for the backdrop. Worried that Nixon's outfit would disappear into the background, giving him a ghostly appearance on black-and-white television, they repainted the background in the last minutes. When the debate began, the paint behind the candidates was still wet.

Viewers who made it all the way through Tuesday's debate noticed that Michelle Obama and Ann Romney both wore bright pink. It's possible that the outfits were chosen to support National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but the program's organizers told the Daily Beast they weren't aware of such plans.

               

Got a question about today's news? ask-the-explainer@yahoo.com.

               

Explainer thanks Alan Schroeder, author of "Presidential Debates: Fifty Years of High-Risk TV."

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
FYI...
  • 20110929_bowling.jpg Why fewer people go bowling

    Like other industries facing tough economic times, America's bowling centers are trying to reinvent themselves.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 28, 2014

  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 27, 2014

  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 26, 2014

  • An oncologist uses scorpion venom to locate cancer cells

    Olson, a pediatric oncologist and research scientist in Seattle, has developed a compound he calls Tumor Paint. When injected into a cancer patient, it seems to light up all the malignant cells so surgeons can easily locate and excise them.

    July 25, 2014

  • An alternative diagnosis to ADHD: Schoolchildren need more time to move

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us that in recent years, there has been a jump in the percentage of young people diagnosed with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD: 7.8 percent in 2003 to 9.5 percent in 2007 to 11 percent in 2011.

    July 24, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 23, 2014

  • Why it's basically impossible to delete those naked selfies you text

    If you're selling an old Android smartphone on an online auction site, you could be giving away rather more than you intend to, according to a recent investigation by anti-malware company Avast.

    July 21, 2014

  • Why does the Vatican need a bank?

    The Vatican Bank's history reads more like Dan Brown than the financial pages, but its worst -- and weirdest -- days may be behind it.

    July 18, 2014