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CNN/YouTube debate questions: Which ones will make the cut?

  • Story Highlights
  • CNN team choosing which YouTube questions will be asked at debate
  • Questions are more personalized than the questions journalists would ask
  • Candidates may be challenged by questions outside of their "comfort zones"
  • Democrats to debate Monday at 7 p.m. ET, Republicans do so in September
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(CNN) -- Monday will deliver a milestone in presidential campaign history, as user-generated video drives a debate.

Over 1700 questions have been submitted to YouTube as of Friday.

At 7 p.m. ET Monday, the Democratic candidates for president will face questions sent in via YouTube. Then, on September 17, the Republican candidates will participate in the second CNN-YouTube debate.

At CNN, a small group led by Senior Vice President David Bohrman and CNN Political Director Sam Feist is looking over the questions.

Bohrman and Feist say they are pleased with the quantity -- and the quality -- of the questions coming in. Video Watch how the team is going over the questions »

"It tells you that people want to connect with the candidates and they want to personalize them," Feist said, "and I think that's what this debate does, personalizes the questions, and it personalizes the answers in a way that journalists don't."

Bohrman said there may be some questions that challenge the candidates.

"There's not going to be a foolish, gotcha question because we're not out there to stump," Bohrman said. "We're out there to actually see how people who want to be president think and handle issues and questions and people that are slightly outside of their comfort zones."

"There are questions that we, the journalists, we, the mainstream media, would never think to ask in the presidential debate," Bohrman said.

Some, however, are questioning the process.

"If CNN has total editorial control over what videos are shown to the candidates, it's pulling the rug out from under the so-called 'user-generated content' revolution," writes Joshua Levy at

"This stuff is much less fascinating if a third-party gatekeeper comes in and tells us what is interesting and what is fluff. Instead, YouTube and CNN should let YouTube users decide what the best questions are, and then use those questions in the debate."

(What's your take? Send in your comments in the box below)

Users can submit presidential debate questions on YouTube until Saturday. The site includes the questions sent so far along with some tips for users on on how to help get their video chosen.


The Democratic debate, the first Democratic National Committee-sanctioned presidential forum of the 2008 election cycle, will be held at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina.

The Republican presidential forum hosted by CNN and YouTube will take place in Florida. Both will be aired live on CNN. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Tom Foreman contributed to this report.

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