What to Expect From the Second Presidential Debate
Climate change, Social Security, and campaign finance reform are likely topics of the Presidential debate, scheduled to take place Sunday, October 9 at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. We’ll be live-fact-checking it starting at 8pm ET, making sure that when the candidates discuss WIRED topics, they’re getting it right.
Unlike the first debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump, in which moderator Lester Holt selected the topics and the questions, Sunday’s meetup will take the form of a town hall. People can submit and vote on questions (voting doesn’t close until Sunday morning), and moderators Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz will draw from those questions in their querying of the candidates.
So what’s on the people’s agenda? Top of the list is gun control and gun rights, judging by the votes cast on the website where the questions are posted. At this writing more than 2.5 million votes had been cast on nearly 13,000 questions, on topics including healthcare, government accountability, education, marijuana legalization, criminal justice, and the nation’s infrastructure.
Tellingly, the question “Would you support requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales?” had received the most votes—more than 56,000 on Friday—with the question “How will you ensure the 2nd amendment is protected?” running close very behind at No. 2. Clinton is avidly pro gun control, while Trump’s campaign platform calls for defending the Second Amendment. In the last debate, though, both candidates said that guns should be kept out of the hands of criminals.
Given the debate’s location in Missouri—home to the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, which precipitated the Black Lives Matter movement’s rise to prominence—shootings of black men by police officers may be on the agenda as well. St. Louis, where Washington University is based, has seen several shootings by police officers this year, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Philando Castile, the beloved school cafeteria worker shot in Minnesota this summer, was originally from St. Louis.
Other leading questions for Sunday’s meeting ask about an increase in the funding of Social Security and whether the candidates would vote to repeal Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court case that made it easier for corporations to fund political campaigns. Clinton has expressed support for a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United. Donald Trump has criticized the way American political campaigns are financed, but he also recently hired as his deputy campaign manager the president of Citizens United, the conservative-leaning nonprofit that was the plaintiff in the 2010 Supreme Court decision.
Term limits for members of Congress and the Supreme Court, climate change, healthcare, and making sure the richest Americans pay their share of taxes are also potential topics at Sunday’s event. (The last of which should be fascinating to hear Trump answer, given the recent revelations about his large tax loss in 1995, which could have allowed him to skip paying federal income tax for the next 18 years.)
The least popular questions include, “Do you think really really old people are as capable as younger people,” “Would you investigate Israel’s involvement in 9/11,” “Is murder in name of religion legal,” “What is your credit score/rating”, “What will you as president do to stop the illegal births in the US”, “Do you believe in God?,” and “Will you appoint Dennis Rodman Secretary of State”. We wonder if that last one came the leader of North Korea.