The Vice Presidential candidates meet in their one and only debate of the election year tonight. Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan faceoff at Center College in Danville, Kentucky.

After tonight, President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney meet twice more before election day.

It’s been a tradition that the Presidential candidates from the Republican and Democrat parties meet to discuss the issues in each Presidential election year since the most famous of the debates – the first televised one in 1960 between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. It drew nearly 67-million viewers out of a population of 179-million at that time making it one of the most watched programs in TV history. One out of every three people in the country was watching and Kennedy’s performance is believed to have won him the election.

1960 Kennedy-Nixon Debate (scriptingnew@Flickr)

By comparison, 37.4 million watched last week’s Obama-Romney debate out of a population of 314-million. Isn’t that sad?

Beside the Kennedy – Nixon debates, a series of seven debates between Abraham Lincoln and Senator Stephen Douglas are among the most famous in American history.

In alternating debates without a moderator, one of the candidates would open with a one hour speech, then the other was given an hour and a half for a rebuttal. Finally the first candidate closed the debate with a half-hour response. I wonder how many people would have been watching if those debates were televised.