Monday, November 26, 2007
The CNN/YouTube Republican Debate

St.Petersburg, Florida (CNN) --- The deadline has come and gone. All told, we received just under 5,000 questions submitted via YouTube for Wednesday night's Republican Presidential Debate. That's compared to almost 3,000 questions for the Democratic Debate back in July. Many are serious and straightforward, others are intriguing and clever, a number of them are rather humorous and -- let's face it -- some are just plain weird.

We're hunkered down going over the submissions in the state-of-the-art (and, thankfully, air conditioned) CNN Election Express Bus outside the Mahaffey Theater at the University of South Florida. Inside, crews are working feverishly to finish construction on what I must say is a very cool stage from which the eight candidates will answer your questions. Meantime, other news media have started to arrive, demonstrators have set up camp on the street outside, and security is being ratcheted up.

Anderson arrives tomorrow and the candidates arrive on Wednesday. In the rest of the country it might be beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but here in St. Petersburg, it's beginning to look a lot like debate time.

- by 360 Associate Producer Jack Gray
Posted By CNNBLOG: 4:50 PM ET
Don't rub it in ! It's cold here in N. California. Im watching for how many times the candidates sigh, roll their eyes and look at their watches. OK , I'll listen to the questions too.
Posted By kelly - san francisco, ca. : 5:35 PM ET
Hi Anderson and Co. - Looking forward to Ron Paul's answers. He's the only candidate who will get us out of Iraq quickly and totally. He's a Republican, which is a new one for me (I've voted Dem my whole life) but he appears to be the most honest politician I've ever seen.
Posted By Kymberly W. , Alexandria VA : 5:39 PM ET
Hi Jack

Thanks for the post. I am so excited to see the CNN/YouTube debate on Wednesday. This is going to be so big.

Good luck viewing all the videos. Can't wait to see which ones are choosen.
Posted By Megan O. Toronto, ON, Canada : 5:43 PM ET
I hope they've screened out the sock puppets this time. I mean, we ARE all adults here. Aren't we?
Posted By courtney j., nashville, tn. : 5:45 PM ET
This is becoming more about the people who made the videos than about who will run our country. It's a typical cross-promotional thing in a time of big corporate media conglamerations.
Posted By burk - elizabeth nj. : 5:50 PM ET
Hey maybe a better way of selecting a President would be if they all went on "Dancing the the Stars", the best hoofer gets to spend four years in the White House. OK, Im being cynical.
Posted By Mary Ann, Hartford, Ct. : 5:58 PM ET
This is all about ratings, isn't it? The last you tube debate was laughable, lowest-common-denominator programming masquerading as a serious debate.
Posted By melissa, new york : 6:02 PM ET
Republicans should have boycotted CNN just like Dems boycotted FoxNews. Of course CNN uses a cute little snowman to ask ridiculous global warming questions, and questions about UFOs are always a big hit.
Posted By stephen b , laramie, wy. : 6:18 PM ET
The problem isn't sock puppets and adults in Darth Vader masks asking questions. The problem is "youtubers" can't ask follow up questions. Without follow up questions all you get is rhetoric.
Posted By Casey A - Salem OR : 6:24 PM ET
I had a brief moment of hope when the youtube debate idea arose. It really is a populist and democratic idea. But now I find it prohibitive and controlled. As Stalin might have said:

"It's not who asks the questions... it's who selects them."
Posted By Sam W, Colorado Springs CO. : 6:29 PM ET
I think it is great that people have an opportunity to ask the candidates questions directly. It is the first election where I feel that we, the public, actually have to be paid attention by the candidates. Thanks for providing this opportunity and I can't wait for the debate on Wednesday.
Posted By pamina : 6:39 PM ET
I just entered the 21st century and installed a high def plasma TV (we got tired of waiting for our 27 inch Sony to die) and am looking forward to seeing every wart and wrinkle on everyone on stage. Seriously, I thought the Democratic You Tube debate was awesome and am looking forward to seeing the Republicans being put through their paces. No offense, but "real" people ask better questions than a lot of the journalists.
Posted By Charlotte D, Stockton CA : 6:41 PM ET
Hi Jack, sounds like an exciting time to be in St. Petersburg...wish I could be there myself to witness it in person. Can you please relay this message to Anderson...

Anderson, can you please make sure the candidates stay on topic and answer the questions asked of them. I know that it's challenging to do this and also keep them within their time limit, but we're pulling for you, Anderson! Good luck and have fun on Wednesday!

Edmonds, Washington
Posted By Lilibeth, Edmonds, Washington : 7:04 PM ET
There is a new formula for the future of political debates. It is called CNN's UTube debates. It is what the American people have waiting for in debates for a long time.

In the context of our present times we expect something hi-tech and hi-confrontation to be given to our future leaders. Gone are the days of canned speeches and answers. Good riddance!

Wow! 5,000 videos! The shear number of videos is a poll in itself. Good luck on Wednesday. I appreciate the new concept and the spontaneity of the debates.

I hope the AC360 blog site shares the debate fever.
Posted By Sharon D, Indianapolis, IN : 7:06 PM ET
A questionnaire for the electoral season. Just the facts please.
While you have been in office,
How much funding did you vote to find Osama Bin Laden? Where is he?
How many illegal/undocumented workers came to the U.S.? Non workers?
If you don’t know how many, why not?
How many billions were spent on foreign oil? Or renewable energy?
How many billions in earmarks did you vote for your constituents? For all your peers?
How much did the Federal deficit grow?
What per cent did your health care costs rise? And for your constituents?
How many billions of trade deficit occurred on your watch?
How many tainted products were recalled by China? And how many are regulated?
Finally, why should you be reelected?
Posted By Mike E : 7:17 PM ET
To keep everything fair and unbias, CNN should include some non-employees in reviewing and selecting the submitted questions. Please, no more "diamonds or pearls" questions like in the last debate!
Posted By Jan from Wood Dale, IL : 7:28 PM ET
I hope you pick questions that ask what they have already done that's successful, not what they promise. We all know promises have and will be broken by both Republicans and Democrats.
Posted By xtina chicago IL : 7:34 PM ET
The Republican You Tube debate should be informative, It should be interesting how each candidate answers and reacts to each question. I don't think the democrats likes YouTube that just my opinion. I like the way it set up myself. I'm sure it's a lot of work going though all the entries and picking out which ones to choose in the debate.

Anderson did a real good job last time, I'm sure he will this time.

Jennifer- Anderson, South Carolina.
Posted By bluediamond (Jennifer) : 7:50 PM ET
youtube is basically the 21st century journalistic equal of Mad magazine. sorry cnn , but you're better than that.
Posted By grace - detroit, mi. : 8:05 PM ET
Not just picking on cnn, but all the debates are a big joke. Not a debate at all, but a question-and-answer session. You want a real debate? Just sit the candidates down and say "tonight's topic is the War" Then let them give their views and let others give counterpoint. And no offense, but get a real debate moderator not a celebrity tv host.
Posted By Jamie K - Palo Alto, Ca. : 8:12 PM ET
@ Jan:

I am so with you on the "diamonds and pearls" question.

Would anyone dare ask the men, boxers or briefs? Really, when I think about that question I get a little queasy myself.

I am looking forward to seeing this entire event live at the Mahaffey.

@ Charlotte:

I'll let you know later in the week what HD does or doesn't do to these guys! The question really will be how much makeup is packed on the face. LOL!
Posted By Renee Bradenton, FL : 8:12 PM ET
I'm looking forward to the YouTube debates! I think they were GREAT last time!!

I just hope that there is no leaning one way or the other in these like there were very obviously toward Hillary in the last ones!!

Let us make up our own minds...we don't need to be spoonfed!! We are all adults here...come on CNN and Anderson!! Get with the program!

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Cindy : 8:15 PM ET
Many of us out here in the hinterlands know that the networks are trying to make a football game out of the election process-- they even try to injure the leaders to allow the underdogs to rise in the polls. All the debates are a joke. Shouldn't we be thinking for ourselves? The news referees are wrapped up in their own importance and are micro-reporting this election season and asking questions about jewelry and other trivial matters.
Posted By Steve C--Lincoln,Ne. : 8:19 PM ET
Most of the people who ask questions seem to be self-loving geeks and basement dwellers, all of whom seem to have no full-time jobs and therefore far too much time on their hands. Between some loser trying to ask his question in the form of a rap song, some freak holding their poor cat up to the screen, and some nutcase who looks like he's under house arrest practically having sex with his assault rifle- you have a recipe for the biggest nerdfest since the last Trekkie convention.
Posted By Jay McD. - Brainerd Mn. : 8:28 PM ET
I guess I'll watch because "live" TV always beats taped. But I hardly ever believe a politician running for office who doesn't push for campaign finance reform. Without publicly financed campaigns, these people will be influenced by whoever pays them. To believe otherwise is being unaware of our political system.
Posted By Andrew P, Ft. Wayne, In. : 8:33 PM ET
I think this new cnn/youtube format is fabulous. I'd rather have a couple Dem. and a couple Republican cnn debates and forget about those highly produced commercials where the candidates are walking in a misty field pretending to talk to a farmer ... it shouldn't matter anyway how much money you can raise but who you are.
Posted By jessica s., springfield, ill. : 8:39 PM ET
The smug, insulated and elitist media is only slightly more obnoxious than the smug, insulated and elitist candidates.
Those youtube questions are submitted mainly by exhibitionists who only want bragging rights among their fellow geeks if their silly and self-serving questions are among the few "chosen" ones. This isn't about politics anymore, it's about pop culture.
Posted By Jerry , Stuart Fl. : 8:44 PM ET
Hi Anderson and Gary - my friends and I at University of South Florida have scored tickets to the show and the after-party ! Can't wait to see everyone in person - will you also be taking questions from the audience , promise they're NOT planted questions -- thanks CNN
Posted By misty lee - st. petersburg fl. : 8:50 PM ET
The ccn/youtube debate is cool, but isn't the Middle East summit in Annapolis a huge deal? This is another case of

"It's NEWS, because we SAY it's news!"

last year the Natalee Holloway story would have been on 24/7; now there's a big turn in that story, but nothing in the news on cnn except the "debate" because I guess ratings are king...
Posted By nasi, rockville , md. : 8:54 PM ET
I wonder if family values will be on the menu? . . or my personal favorite "comprehensive immigration reform" ! ... right
Posted By aj- huntington, ny. : 9:21 PM ET
Ok you've piqued my interest with the video questions from everyday Americans. I vote every election and read all I can about the candidates, but I am proud to say I haven't watched a single debate on tv this election season. I have better things to waste my time on.
Posted By Tim S-- Friendswood, TX : 9:27 PM ET
Since most of the upcoming debates are going to utilize the same old formula, it's good that those of us who are open to change have a interesting and innovative format to watch via the YouTube debates. I'm looking forward to seeing how the Republican candidates are able to navigate this new terrain.
Posted By Fay, Vacaville, CA : 9:32 PM ET
I think the youtube cnn debates are a good tool for the common person to get involved, but politicians being who they are, almost never answer questions directly. They say things such as well, the real question is... or I don't think we should be focusing on that aspect of this issue (translation: I don't want to answer the question.)
Posted By bill w , san jose, ca. : 9:36 PM ET
Im glad the GOP candidates found time to meet together to answer actual questions from actual Americans - I know how busy the Republicans are licking their money or whatever it is they do that's more important to them than interacting with voters. We look forward to seeing the debate.
Posted By jane glass , westlake vlg . , oh. : 9:41 PM ET
The youtube fans can send in their videos, they can be reviewed by cnn, and asked by a reporter, but please spare us the "america's funniest home videos" bit. Send the videos over to comedy central if they're that entertaining.
Posted By Allen Louisville, Ky, : 9:44 PM ET
I hope the debate is professional and won't push through questions just to ridicule the Republican party for the sake of ridicule.
The questions should remain the focus. You've seen one snowman, you've seen them all..Good luck on the debate.
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 9:48 PM ET
I think cnn should invite the folks who made videos last time into the audience during this debate. I would like to see them live, face-to-face to debate with GOP candidates- without the protection of the video camera to hide behind. I think you'd have a lot less bravado and sneering facial movements if these people had to think on their feet. Thank you.
Posted By thomas b, dover, de. : 9:51 PM ET
I do wish we'd get past the "Beavis and Butthead " mentality of youtube and really talk about how each American can succeed while still welcoming immigrants into our country, how we can lower wasteful government spending, and how we can further peace in the Middle east and Africa. Boring, right?
Posted By Evelyn W - Marietta, GA. : 9:55 PM ET
response to Lorie Ann -

I don't think it's possible for the media to represent the average young American today without ridiculing whichever party is in power, and without using highly (ahem) entertaining visuals. The youtube generation are into visual stimulation, not cerebral debate. And I think no matter what format they use, no matter who participates, it will be a rather anti-Bush atmosphere until we have a change of administration. Not that there's anything wrong with Bush.
Posted By courtney j - nashville, tn. : 10:01 PM ET
I hope the questions selected are selected because they are on issues and not because they are gee whiz neat. And I also hope the candidates can actually debate rather than just stand and answer questions like they are in a spelling bee in school. Everytime in the Dem. youtube debate that it seemed some real debating would get started it got shut down to go on to the next question. I thought a debate was for debating - not just answering questions from cute videos.

Annie Kate
Birmingham AL
Posted By Annie Kate : 10:02 PM ET
I know I'm jumping the gun here, but I 'd LOVE to see cnn youtube host something with both the Demcoratic and Republican front-runners ! ...
Posted By Maria C -- Boise, Id. : 10:49 PM ET
Dear AC360,

Hopefully you guys will allow the next debate to be... CNN AC360 Blog Democratic/Republican Debate.

Then the AC360 bloggers can reeeeaaally let 'em have the what for.

James Foley
Posted By James Foley Kamiah, Idaho : 1:56 AM ET
Hi AC360...
Welcome back to the show, Anderson.

I think the Republican YouTube Debate is going to be both fun and informative. The next generation of voters are visual thinkers, and this YouTube idea is, in the opinion of this journalist, fabulous.

Now what I'd REALLY like to see is a debate among the three top contenders of BOTH major parties. The last CNN Democratic debate was a dissappointment, all the mudslinging deterred from the questions and issues at hand.

What do you think?
Posted By Mac : 10:44 AM ET
Reply to Sarah:

Once the primaries are done, the nominees along with independents square off in debates. Hello ! Have you actually participated in an election before? Thanks cnn, looking forward to all the drama Wed. night.
Posted By Steve C-- Lincoln, Ne. : 12:44 PM ET
I LOVE the debates. But if there's one thing I'd add is to give Anderson the Moderator a big giant RED BUZZER button that he'd control . The buzzer would be louder than the anyone's voice, so it would drown them out if held down for a few seconds. If you're going to make this a game show atmosphere, may as well get the buzzer !...
Posted By Shawn , Santa Fe, N.M. : 12:52 PM ET
Can't wait to see these politicians sweat. Don't let them ramble on, and don't let them get away w/ not answering the question or dodging the question posed. You go get 'em Anderson .
Posted By Lee - Oklahoma City, OK : 12:55 PM ET
I anticipate this debate and hope the Republican candidates rise above the petty bickering and personal attacks displayed in July by the Democrats.

p.s. is the "ratcheted - up Security" for Anderson groupies or for the Presidential candidates?... ;)
Posted By c.j. , bloomfield hills, mi. : 1:25 PM ET
I look forward to Ron Paul continually slapping these other guys around. Have a Nice Day.
Posted By james c. ryan - duluth , mn. : 4:03 PM ET
I guess in this high-tech image-is-everything era, we can't really expect to sit around and shoot the bull with the candidates running for Pres. So the closest we'll come to spontaneity and man-on-the-street interaction is the youtube debate.
Posted By Brooke, Birmingham, MI. : 4:06 PM ET
Kudos to CNN to giving much attention and recognition to the heros who have done so much to change our world for the good.

This should make CNN and other news organizations also think about those who are the opposite of heros -- like the gunman in Omaha and all terrorists at home and abroad. Instead of giving them recognition and making them famous, which is what terrorists want, their faces should never be shown on the air. While I realize that a responsible news organization like CNN has an obligation to report such stories, can't it be done without photos or images? Image if we never saw a picture of Osama bin Laden?

Let's show other like that kid in Omaha who wanted to be "famous," that people who commit such acts will be gone and forgotten. And only give our attention and support to the victims...
Posted By mmsekelsky : 3:14 PM ET
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