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We are two weeks away from electing the next President of the United States. On November 6, 2012, American voters will march to their precincts to cast their vote for President Obama or former Massachusetts Governor Romney. (Early voting began last week in some states.) Until then, there is no escaping the election furor: the airwaves are full of campaign ads, observers Tweet zingers and reactions in real-time, newspapers cover every gaffe and rally, and allies of each man defend and promote their man. Overwhelming as it can be, it is an important part of the election process.
Among the most informative and popular events on the road to the White House is the series of Presidential debates. The first two debates between Obama and Romney focused on domestic issues. The final debate, to be held in Florida on Monday, October 22, 2012, will focus on foreign policy. It will follow a traditional debate format in which moderator Bill Schieffer will pose questions to the candidates. Each candidate will have a chance to answer, and then to refute what their opponent says. As the candidates battle for the remaining undecided voters’ support, these debates offer an opportunity to speak directly to voters about key issues.
Before election day arrives, do your homework. Learn where each man stands on issues most important to you. Roll up your sleeves and revisit highlights from the first two debates. Prepare to assess the candidates during the final debate. Then, meet your match and cast your vote.
May the Best Man Win—
Who are Mitt Romney and Barack Obama? Learn the basics about their qualifications, education, and family from an infographic. Then, turn to the official video biographies of Romney and Obama shared during their national conventions. These are not impartial histories. They are personal and political. After watching each video, what is your impression of each candidate? How did the video create that impression—which character traits and experiences does each video emphasize?
Voters are not voting so much for a person as they are voting for the agenda, beliefs, and vision that will guide the President’s policies. Brainstorm some of the key issues facing Americans and America. Which issues are most important to you? Discover where Mitt Romney and Barack Obama stand on those issues by visiting their official websites. Study Obama’s views on six key issues: innovation, taxes, nation-building, energy, education, and health care. To see more issues, follow the link to ‘jump to another issue.’
Now, give Romney an opportunity to share his vision. Study Romney’s 5- point plan for creating jobs, as well as his views on what he considers key issues: foreign policy, the role of government, and taxes. To learn more about other topics, select an issue from the list.
To hear the candidates speak on a number of issues, visit C-SPAN’s election headquarters. Here you can view excerpts from speeches by Romney, Obama, and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.
Candidates are often criticized for not providing enough detail about their plans, or for going “too deep in the weeds” and spouting too many figures. Sometimes, a simple yes(pro) or no(con) would be nice. To view how all the Presidential candidates stand on 68 specific issues, visit ProCon.org’s side-by-side comparison. Here you will find candidates’ views on everything under the sun: the legal drinking age, the debt limit, standardized testing, Arctic drilling, gay marriage, and the situation in Syria. The chart presents simple positions: pro, con, or not clear. For more information about a particular issue, click on a question and then on a candidate’s response to read their views in their own words. It is also possible to read all of Obama’s and Romney’s responses along with view videos, read speeches, and examine their finances.
The Great Debate –
On Monday, the final Presidential debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama will be televised live at 9PM, EDT. If you missed the first two, watch the highlights of the October 3, and October 16 Presidential debates. As you watch, record your questions. What does each man do to persuade you that he deserves your vote? What is not said?
Mark Twain said, “Facts are stubborn things but statistics are more pliable.” Romney and Obama are both adept at using statistics to support their stance, and to demonize their opponent. It can be challenging to know who is correct and which end is up. To help, read the Associated Press’ fact check for each video excerpt. You will find it under the video screen.
As you watch the final debate, use the Presidential Debate Worksheet to analyze each man’s performance. Who do you think won the debate and why? Did you learn anything new during this debate? What questions still linger? Do you know who you support? If you are not sure which man has your vote, C-SPAN will help you find your match. You can opt to see how your answers on each question influence your match, or you can hide that window and let your match be a surprise.