Presidential Debates Around the Corner

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With the 2004 Presidential Election a little over one month away, the first of three presidential debates is September 30.

Most Americans already have their minds made up on a presidential candidate. For those voters, watching a debate is like watching a sporting event.

"You root for them like you would be routing for the Aggie football team. You don't want to just see them win, you want to see a shut out, you want to see a major victory," said Texas A&M communication professor Dr. Kurt Ritter.

Ritter said debates are just a way for decided voters to reinforce their point of views.

"I'll vote for President Bush anyway, but it will give me an idea where he stands on the issues," said one voter.

A second person added, "I have a slight tendency towards Kerry, and I'd like to see it firmed up."

But, the most likely to be swayed by a debate are the undecided.

"I will vote for someone, but I'm just trying to make my mind up, it's a big decision," said another voter.

Ritter said voters can learn a lot from watching a debate. Not only do you learn the issues, but you learn more about the candidate.

Before tuning in to the debates you may have questions on what to watch for, the answers are just a few key strokes away.

The Web Site lists everything you need to know about debate watching, including pointers on how to get the most out of one.

Ritter said with the nation so closely divided on the candidates, the debates will play a key role in the election.

The most recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll shows that 54 percent of registered voters would vote for Bush today, and 41 percent would vote for Kerry.

"That makes the remaining voters who are either undecided or are soft on their decisions or might change their mind, terribly important," said Ritter.

He said the debates could make or break a candidate's hopes for the White House.

The first presidential debate is September 30, followed by two more October 8 and 13. Vice President Cheney and John Edwards face off in a debate televised October 5. All debates start at 8 p.m.