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February 23rd, 1992 – On This Day in Sioux Falls History, a nationally televised Presidential Debate took place right here in Sioux Falls!  The eventual winner of the 1992 election… Bill Clinton, was among the debaters on this evening!

With election day less than 9 months away the Democrat Party was in dire need of locking in their candidate to run against incumbent President George HW Bush.  As one of the final primary stops in the national election cycle, South Dakota and Sioux Falls were cast in the spotlight in their attempt to narrow down the best candidate.

The night before the primary 6 would-be presidents argued the course for the future in our great city!

The entire debate was broadcast by nationally by CSPAN and locally by South Dakota Public Broadcasting and brought thousands of viewers to Sioux Falls… through their TV sets!  The common cut scene for the broadcast was a brilliant shot of Falls Park in full swell with water pouring over the cascades!

Clinton would clearly win the debate over rivals Jerry Brown, Larry Argan, Bob Kerrey, Tom Harkin, and Paul Tsongas – and he would go on to win the South Dakota primary, the Democrat Party nomination, and eventually the Presidency unseating the incumbent!

Would it be hyperbole to say Bill Clinton’s run to the president really began with a strong performance in a national debate right here in Sioux Falls… maybe.. but I’m going to say it anyway!