Ah, the town-hall debate. Where Joe Sixpack and Jane Chardonnay can have their chance to ask a presidential candidate just about anything. Of course, such an open format can sometimes lead to uncomfortable moments
for a candidate (although tonight might not have such fireworks
First proposed by then-Governor Clinton in the 1992 campaign
, the town-hall format has since become a staple of the political season, and its observers witnessing some of the most memorable campaign moments. That second debate
of the Clinton-Bush season featured an exasperated George Sr. checking his watch at one point, a throwaway action that was not well-received by the public. The 2000 Bush-Gore debate
saw Dubyah trotting out his now-infamous “We need a uniter, not a divider” trope.
On the surface, McCain would seem to have an edge this evening, having appeared at hundreds of town hall meetings
on the trail. But given the recent economic meltdown and the conversational nature of the town-hall format, he’s going to have a tough time going negative
against his opponent. More reading: “What to Watch for During Round 2.”
If you’re in Tennessee, hoping to attend the debate at Belmont University, you’re probably out of luck; the audience will be made up of 150 self-proclaimed “undecided” voters, hand-selected by the Gallup Organization
, and tickets have been unavailable for months
Is tonight’s debate likely to be a game-changer? Probably not
. But we’ll be watching all the same.