Analyst predicts ‘hot’ debate topics
Expert John Weingart says pressure is on days before candidates face off
As the 2012 presidential election heats up, Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama will go head-to-head on the debate stage Wednesday in Denver.
John Weingart, associate director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics, said there is speculation about how this week’s presidential debate will go, but nobody really knows what it will bring.
“There is a tremendous amount of pressure on them,” he said. “Both of them will have to, at the same time be very careful of [what] they say so that they don’t say anything that could be used against them by their opponent.”
He said students should try to put themselves in the candidates’ shoes to understand the pressure the debate has on the candidates, in which millions of people watch and criticize every word and gesture.
“Mostly, half the people [watching] will be hoping you do something stupid, and the other half will be hoping you’re brilliant,” he said.
Weingart said the question before voters involves what the role of government should be and whether the government should provide more services to people in need or if it is more important to cut the deficit.
He said another issue citizens are concerned about is the government’s involvement in making people’s health care decisions.
The elected president — but also Congress — will determine U.S. policy, he said.
He said voters want the candidates to at least appear spontaneous and comfortable at the debate.
“With the polls showing Mitt Romney a little bit behind, the pressure is greater on him than it is on Obama,” he said. “But it’s strong pressure on both of them.”
He said he does not know what the hot topics of the debate will be but said Jim Lehrer, host of “Newshour” on PBS and the moderator for the debate, will have complete discretion to come up with the topics for the questions.
Weingart said some questions the candidates will have to answer might be about some campaign criticisms, as well as some questions neither candidate expects, so the candidates can move away from the statements and responses the candidates make through the campaigns.
“[Lehrer] discusses the [debate] questions with nobody except to some extent his wife. I imagine he will both try to clarify — ask the candidates to clarify some issues where they have been criticized,” he said.
While the debates inform voters about the candidates, he said they could be more informative.
He said students should watch the debate on C-SPAN if they can, where there is no commentary from news outlets.
“You watch the debate, and you see what you think of it,” he said.