Tonight at 9 p.m. the stage will be set for the second Presidential debate between the incumbent President Bush and his opponent, Sen. John Kerry.
Although an unprecedented sixty-three million viewers watched the previous debate, the amount of viewers is expected to decrease for the second round.
Television networks such as CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC still expect a good viewer turnout, and many undecided Temple students said the debate could help them choose a candidate.
For 90 minutes Charles Gibson, co-anchor of Good Morning America, will preside over the debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. The format will follow that of a town hall forum in which 100 to 150 audience members will be selected by the Gallup Organization to actively participate.
Although there is no limit on the topics that audience members can ask both candidates, it has been agreed that there will be an equal number of questions on foreign policy, homeland security, the economy and domestic policy.
Audience members will then submit questions to Gibson who will decide which questions will be used in the debate. In the end a total of sixteen questions will be asked, with candidates taking turns answering the questions.
Temple student Christina Carrico just hopes the candidates are clear in their responses, a criticism she has from the first debate in Florida.
Carrico represents a diverse group of undecided Temple voters that have just recently turned their attention onto the race.
She didn’t vote in the primary election and hasn’t been following the race closely for the past year like some students have.
The freshman science student, whose goal is to work as a forensic scientist, said she’s still trying to adapt to college life and admitted that she “never really caught on to politics.”
Like many undecided voters, Carrico is tuning in to the presidential race one to two months before the election. She set aside time to watch the first presidential debate to learn more about each candidate, but said she was disappointed because they didn’t present arguments that people new to the campaign would understand. Carrico said this is a problem in politics because many undecided voters just started following election coverage.
“I tried to watch the debate, but I have no clue what they were talking about,” she said. “I’m sure there are lots of teenagers that have no clue what they are referring to.
“I wanted to learn more, but I didn’t pick it up in the beginning of the race so I feel lost now,” Carrico added.
Carrico, who noted that most of her family and friends are not satisfied with Bush, said she will try to watch the debate tonight, but expects more of the same confusing dialogue. The frustrated freshman said because she isn’t getting the information she needs from the debates she may not vote at all.
She also said that many people in her position will turn to the candidates’ commercials in a last-ditch effort to get information during election crunch time.
“They (negative ads) are always on, and it’s kind of weird to say, but I’m not turned off to it,” she said. “That’s what campaigning is-candidates attack each other’s positions and that’s how some people learn,” Carrico said. “But then again, they’re not always 100 percent true,” she added.
Sophomore Dan Kurfirst agrees that voters can’t always believe what they hear or see.
Kurfirst has resisted jumping on any party’s bandwagon and has been skeptical of Kerry and Bush from the beginning.
The religion student plans to watch tonight’s debate and will also check out the analysis and commentary over the weekend before making a decision.
“I’m interesting in the presidential race as a whole,” Kurfirst said. “It’s possible that either one could say something that would sway me.
“I like some of what Bush does and some of what Kerry does,” Kurfirst said. “But I don’t like a lot of things that both of them do.”
Kurfirst is also considering a third-party candidate because he is dissatisfied with positions the two frontrunners take. The sophomore opposes Kerry’s economic plan and worries about Bush’s plan for Iraq.
He said he is thinking about voting for Kerry, but may end up voting for libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik after hearing him speak at Temple on Sept. 29.
Badnarik believes the government’s role should be minimized, opposes the pre-emptive war in Iraq, and supports a woman’s right to choose. Kurfirst said Badnarik’s stances match up closely with his, but acknowledged the third party candidate does not have a chance to win the election.
“My main complaint is that the two major parties lie to us and I don’t think they’ll do what they say if they come into power,” he said. “That isn’t doing America any good and I like the third party because they don’t use corruption – there’s a lot more out there than just Bush and Kerry.”
Kurfirst said he hasn’t counted out Bush or Kerry, but the domestic policy debate tonight could make his decision a lot easier, whether by endorsing one or ruling both of them out.