‘Race for the White House’ review
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
While we may not know what happens behind the scenes during presidential campaigns, anything could affect a candidate’s chance of becoming the next president of the United States. There are plenty of exciting elections in American history, and the stories behind them are just as interesting. Just in time for the new season of House of Cards, the new CNN show Race for the White House explores six elections that have a lot of historical significance. The show is narrated and produced by House of Cards’ Kevin Spacey, who describes the campaigns of the candidates and what they did to try to win votes.
The structure of the show is similar to another CNN show, The Decades. Throughout the show, various historians talk about the events in the elections, and in some episodes, some of the people who were involved in the campaigns talk about their experiences, complete with re-enactments of those events. In the first episode, the show talks about the 1961 race between New York Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon.
Many people thought that Richard Nixon was going to be the next president, but Kennedy’s campaign was unique enough for the time to keep the media’s attention on him. This episode also highlighted their first televised debate, which was the most watched event in TV during that time and showed both John F. Kennedy’s potential and Richard Nixon’s many mistakes in the debate.
Kevin Spacey’s narration feels very similar to Frank Underwood without the southern accent. The theme song of the show is also similar to the theme song of House of Cards. When I watched the episode, I learned a lot of things about the 1961 election. It is interesting to note that Frank Sinatra was the first singer to endorse a candidate or sing a jingle for an election ad. This was one example of Kennedy’s exploitation of star power.
Kennedy was ill during his campaign, but he hid this fact from the public in order to secure votes. On the other hand, Nixon could not hide his clumsiness. He broke his knee twice, making him look very foolish in front of the voting public.
The episode aired after the Democratic Presidential Debate. In the debate’s after-show, Erin Burnett and the panel discussed the themes of the episode. There will be more interesting stories in the next few weeks, like the 1864 race between Abraham Lincoln and George B. McClellan in this week’s episode, the 1984 race between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale, 1988 race between George H. W. Bush and Michael Dukakis, and Bill Clinton’s election in 1992. Race for the White House airs Sunday at 7:00 p.m. on CNN.