Saturday, December 01, 2007

Heartland Presidential Forum Puts the Spotlight on the Issues

The biggest thing people would have noticed about the Heartland Presidential Forum would have been the format. The candidates appeared on stage one by one. They faced questions from different community leaders and organizers. A group of 3 community leaders and organizers would get on stage and tell their personal story and how it relates to the larger issue. Each group of people asked 2 questions that related to each other. In total, the candidates had 4 questions from community leaders and organizers, as well as 2 questions for the moderators. The questions focused on immigration, health care, community values, the home foreclosure crisis, fair trade agreements, and living wages.

Ben Smith from the Politico had some comments on CSPAN afterwards that the format hurt this forum. However, the point of this forum wasn't the candidates, wasn't the talking points, and wasn't the mudslinging like it is in the debates. The focus of this forum was on the issues and the people who are working on these issues everyday at a grassroots level. The format allowed the presidential candidates to react to the emotional stories. The answers to these questions couldn't just include the normal talking points or a run down on policy papers, but the candidates had to open their hearts and make a connection to the audience. The Heartland Presidential Forum accomplished it goal by putting the spotlight on the issues that Americans face in their everyday lives.

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