Make-or-break moments in presidential debates

As Joe Biden and President Donald Trump prepare for a high-stakes presidential debate, ABC takes a look back at the top make-or-break moments from past contests.
2:54 | 09/30/20

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Transcript for Make-or-break moments in presidential debates
Stress hopeful anxious a variety of emotions across the country and voters across the country telling us how they feel is millions prepare watch tonight's main event and ultimately decided who will be this nation's next president. Finally tonight to take a look back at some of those small moments from past debates it. You might offer some lessons from president trumpet former Vice President Biden to people with. Quite a few debates already under their belts. President and night modern presidential debates have proven they can make or break. The question before us is which point of view. And which body do we want to leave United States so from the first televised debate in 1961. Up polish JFK without shined and sweaty Richard Nixon. I don't know coming typically is against such a proposal governor. And you go again Ronald Reagan was a master of memorable one liners using humor to defuse a question about his age in 1984. I will not make age an issue of this campaign I am not going to exploit for political purposes. My opponent's youth and inexperience. But the first rule of debates simply do no harm us with the dreaded gas. Planting passion was Michael dukakis' defeat downfall in 1988. Governor. If Kitty Dukakis were raped and and murder. Would you favor. And irrevocable death penalty for the killer. So I don't know. And I think you know that I proposed definitely during all of my life. George H. W. Bush looking at his watch in 1990 to prove fatal. Mr. Al Gore those repeated size in 2000 nor the moment that resonated assessment of governor gets to do man's practicing Fuzzy math again. There's differences. And in 2012. Mitt Romney stuck a little too close to was talking points our navy is smaller now than any time since 1970. Setting up his opponents just call a mountain. Well governor we also have fewer horses and bay and that's because the nature of our Meltzer is changed and so the question is not. A game of battleship or counting ships it's it's what our capabilities. Of course for Biden in trump this is not their first rodeo. This is a bunch of stuff look here's the deal what does that mean a bunch of stuff well it means and simply enact Irish. It is Qaeda could attack happened but we are is Caldwell until he had and I as. Both proving they can be themselves on the debate stage there was even a time when. He didn't get an Emmy for his TV program three years in a row when he started tweeting that the Emmys were rigged and should a guy didn't. But any country dealing with crisis upon crisis from the pandemic to the economy to racial strife. Perhaps substance over style will prove decisive in twenty Tawny.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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