The Chronicle’s View: Don’t miss the opportunity to meet candidates on campus

This Thursday, the presidential candidates will debate again in “town meeting” style with audience members asking questions.

There’s a great deal of value in hearing candidates debate each other. Rather than giving tired unoriginal stump speeches, the candidates are exposed to the voters. We can see how they respond to tough questions; we can hear them respond to (and not just insult) each other.

Debates that field questions from the audience are the best kind. Organizers will often ask soft or approved questions as a courtesy to the candidates. Audience members ask the questions that are on everybody’s mind-the questions the candidates are trying to avoid.

U students should not only watch this Thursday’s presidential debate, but also all that are available for the local races here in Salt Lake City.

Many of these local debates are held right here at the U at the Hinckley Institute of Politics in Orson Spencer Hall. Many candidates are coming on campus, whether to debate or give a speech, and almost all will field questions.

The Hinckley Institute gives the U its own “town hall” meeting format to hear, question and interact with those seeking our votes locally.

It would be such a wasted opportunity to not catch at least one speech or debate at institute.

The future of Utah is not a sure thing. While polls are favoring certain candidates in the gubernatorial and congressional races, they are not yet locked.

The community needs informed participants to vote in these elections. And to a large extent, U students are responding to the call wonderfully. Voter registration tables across campus are aggressively (but with smiles) making sure each passerby knows he or she needs to register.

Across the country, voter registration is up. The year 2004 will be an amazing year in American democracy. It will be exciting to participate in this revolution of political activity even if none of the candidates really stand out.

Take a stand. Define yourself as an American. Attend some speeches and debates and make your will known Nov. 2.