The Republican candidates gathered last night to directly answer voters’ questions on a range of topics, including the death penalty, farm subsidies, gun control and gays in the military. More than 5,000 people submitted questions on the popular video Web site. The Democrats held a similar debate in July.
This debate had a much different feel from the previous Republican events in which candidates were trying to prove they were the best to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. On November 28, the Democratic candidates were not discussed much, unless you count a quip by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. When answering a question about the space program, Huckabee joked that Clinton could be on the first rocket to Mars. It was one of a handful of well-received jokes Huckabee made during the evening.
Immigration was a major topic that led to some testy moments. When former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney argued that Rudy Giuliani ran a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants when he was mayor of New York City, Giuliani fired back that Romney ran a “sanctuary mansion” because he once had an illegal immigrant working at his home.
Submitting questions to YouTube gave Americans a chance to highlight their creativity – some used animated videos and songs to ask serious questions. But the video that seems to have generated the most buzz was made by one of the candidates – former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson. The candidates were allowed to show their own YouTube style campaign ads during the debate. Thompson’s is considered the first negative ad in the Republican race – it featured a clip of Romney saying he supported abortion rights and Huckabee saying raising taxes is okay – two positions the Republican base does not support.
Read more about the impact of YouTube on American politics here.
27 November 2007
Will students be left out of Iowa?
The presidential campaigns have been spending countless amounts of time and money on Iowa's college campuses, encouraging young people to caucus in a state where the age of the average caucus participant is in the 60s. Many Iowa students have opted to register to vote in the Midwest state rather than at their parents' homes. They have been encouraged to vote in Iowa because they hope to impact the outcome of the country's first nominating contest.
Problem is, with the caucuses being held so early on January 3, 2008, most college students will still be in their home states on winter break. Even if they wanted to come back to Iowa early to vote, most college dormitories are closed. And in a caucus, a nominating contest where party members meet in person to show their support for a candidate, there is no absentee voting.
Political experts question whether or not this could impact the Iowa race. Young people traditionally make up a very small percentage of caucus participants. However, in a close race, as this one is gearing up to be, the small percentage could make a difference – especially to Democrat Barack Obama who is a favorite of young people.
This does not mean that students will be left disenfranchised. Many still have time to switch their voter registration to their parents' home states so that they can vote there.
23 November 2007
Primary calendar chaos (hopefully) ends
Journalists, political pundits, campaign staff and the presidential candidates themselves have something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season: New Hampshire has finally set its primary date.
During those hectic few months where states kept moving their primaries and caucuses earlier and earlier, the Granite State held out on setting its date to make sure it would hold the first primary. The New Hampshire Secretary of State threatened to move it to December 2007 if he had to. Most Americans are relieved to hear he does not have to – now that the other states seem to have settled their dates, New Hampshire has finally announced it will hold its primary January 8.
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