The Changing Face of Debate - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/28/04

The Changing Face of Debate

It's a story being told all across the county. The Presidential debate to be held this Thursday will be guided by strict rules each campaign had to agree upon. Even in Lubbock, some political observers feel the word "debate" is a misnomer.

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If you talk to Susan Barrick, she will tell you that political debates are becoming less spontaneous and more controlled. She's been involved in political organizations for nearly 20 years. "I feel like the word debate is an exaggeration these days because the candidates are not really allowed to speak directly to each other or question each other directly," said Barrick.

For instance, Lubbock's first congressional debate will be held in two weeks. It has its own set of rules each candidate must follow. "This is going to be a moderated debate and so we will have a panel made up of three persons that will actually be asking the questions and the questions are at their discretion," says Debate Coordinator Norma Ritz Johnson.

Johnson says debates are controlled due to time and equality. Audience members are not allowed to ask questions. Democratic candidate Charlie Stenholm, Republican candidate Randy Neugebauer, and Libertarian candidate Chip Peterson will answer the same questions by the panelists with limited response time. "Well, there really hasn't been any discussion on what the topics will be. We certainly expect for the panelists to ask relevant questions based upon the issues we're facing today," said Johnson.

Barrick will agree debates are a positive event, even if it is controlled. She offers debate watching tips so you can get the most out of the debate. "Go into the debate with the issues that really matter to them as residents and as voters. Make a list and then take notes and compare how you feel the two candidates are doing. You can give them a simple plus or minus on each issue," suggested Barrick.

The three candidates will meet in Lubbock, October 12th at Texas Tech's Allen Theater for their first debate.

Details of a TV broadcast schedule are currently being worked out, and we'll bring those to you as soon as they become available.

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