Denver is host to the first Presidential Debate on October 3rd. This means two things. One, Denver and University of Denver will be an important piece of history. Two, trying to drive, dine or do anything anywhere near the area will be chaotic at best...
I am excited because I get to be at the Debate Fest, which is basically a gathering/watch party in the next hall at DU. For someone who loves our political process, this is akin to winning Willy Wonka's golden ticket. Minus the lickable wallpaper or creepy Gene Wilder.
Soooo, the debates. Presidential Debates tend to be late in the election process, and are geared towards appealing to the undecided voter. (Yes, I know this is a lot of effort to try to make Joseph Lieberman pick a candidate, but...) Debates are usually centered around the most controversial topics of the election, so we should see plenty packed into this first debate. Economy, women's rights, healthcare, jobs, world politics- they are all fair game.
The format of the debate can vary. Some debates are kept strictly in check with a journalist panel of monitors asking questions. Other debates bring questions straight from the people in the audience. A coin toss typically decides the first answerer, and each candidate gets two minutes to answer a question. His opponent then gets one minute to answer or rebut. Closing statements can be made, which usually provide sixty plus million viewers a glimpse into what each candidate says or thinks.
Debates can make or break an election. Even those of us who weren't alive have probably seen Nixon's disastrous debate against Kennedy. Nervous in front of the cameras, Nixon stammered and sweated and hemmed and hawed and looked uncomfortable at the thought of being president. George H. W. Bush kept glancing at his watch, giving the impression that he had somewhere more important to be. It took days to undo that damage, and Bush lost momentum even with damage control. Clinton was able to grab control and woo voters with his charm.
Presidential Debates matter, and we are beyond lucky to be a part of one.
If you could ask President Obama a question at a debate, what would you ask? If you could ask Mitt Romney a question next Wednesday, what would you ask?