Preparing for the last presidential debate

Tomorrow, Hofstra University will host the third and final debate of what may be the most significant and pivotal presidential election in decades.
Rival Senators Barack Obama and John McCain hope to take advantage of their last opportunity to face each other in front of the nation before the upcoming election.
The enormous weight of the election in the midst of war and one of the worst financial crises in American history has only served to fuel the flames of both candidates’ campaigns.
After I whip his you-know-what in this debate, we’re going to be going out 24/7, promised McCain to supporters in Arlington, Virginia on Sunday.  According to most polls, the Arizona Republican lost both previous debates, including the town-hall debate, which has long been his strong suit, on October 7.
Obama has been slightly more reserved throughout the race, which he leads, according to Gallup poll, by 10 percent
The chronically-undecided state of Ohio has remained in the front of both candidates’ minds.  As America witnessed in 2000 and 2004, one state can be the deciding factor in a presidential election.
So far, the debates have proved to be somewhat disappointing, with no knockout punches even attempted.
UA Debate team coach Mark Rittenour believes that this year’s debate formats do not offer the clearest view of the candidates.
Unfortunately, the way that the debates are set up, there’s not really a forum for the candidates to make a formal rebuttal, he remarks.
A formal rebuttal would allow both candidates to offer an answer to each question, something that many believe Americans deserve, especially in light of the ongoing financial crisis.
We’re not seeing the candidates argue on the exact policies and saying why their perspective on the policy is better, explains Rittenour.
In the previous debates, candidates did not know exactly which issues would dominate the debate, and neither was given the opportunity to cross-examine the other.
Rittenour sees the problem in that format: As a result of not knowing [the dominant issues beforehand], their evidentiary base isn’t really at a point where they have actual facts and figures, statistical and empirical data to back up what they’re saying on the policies.
Without proper statistics and numbers to support their arguments, the presidential hopefuls may not be able to persuade many Americans to support their plans.  Also, it allows them to turn the debate into a discussion of vague personal views.
The present format was chosen to pack as many questions and issues as possible into 90 minutes.
Substance aside, this year’s debates have been full of passion and style.  McCain has drawn criticism by calling Senator Obama that one and refusing to look at him the entire first debate.
Obama, while taking a more laid-back approach, still took a swipe at one of the McCain campaign slogans, quipping that the Straight Talk Express just lost a wheel on that one after a fiery exchange.
Whether for entertainment or patriotism, students at the University of Akron should find a reason to watch tomorrow’s debate with a critical eye.
Rittenour suggests that students keep a running list of each candidate’s answers to the questions.  After the debate, a quick review of the notes and a little soul-searching should clear up any confusion for who to support.