Early Kick-Off for Presidential Debates

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As presidential candidates kick their campaigns into full gear, a series of political debates are happening earlier this year than in the past.

Michael Desch, the Robert M. Gates Chair in Intelligence and National Security Decisionmaking at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, says the race for president has already begun.

"It's remarkable how early the campaign season started. With all the money that has been raised in the early debates, 2008 has really gotten off to a quick start," Desch said.

He adds there are several key reasons for the early debates. For starters, a solitary front-runner on each side is missing.

"On the Republican side, there isn't an heir apparent, and on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton seems to be the obvious front-runner, but her negatives are so high that people like John Edwards and Barack Obama are still strong candidates," Desch said.

Several key issues are also at the forefront of this next presidential election. Some area residents say those issues are enticing them to tune in and watch the debates.

"The Iraq War, find out who has a plan to end it," noted Brazos County Resident John Grizzafi.

"Healthcare is a big issue here in Brazos County. We have a lot of people without healthcare," said Brazos County Resident Maggie Charleton.

Although many candidates have already taken to the stage, but others like Fred Thompson are still choosing to wait on the sidelines, a move which some experts say is clever for the time being.

"A lot of people will put their hopes in the new candidate," Desch said. "Thompson has got incentive to stay out as long as he can- but the problem is eventually you have to jump in."

Although the recent debates are already making for an active political season, experts say the real following of the candidates and their issues has yet to begin.