The Campaign Spot

How Did The Des Moines Register Decide the Topics?

The Des Moines Register’s explanation of how it decided the topics doesn’t match up with the questions asked yesterday. From the still-not-formatted transcript on the DMR site:

Hello, I’m Carolyn Washburn, editor of the Des Moines Register, and welcome today one of the Des Moines Register debates. Today we’re going to talk with nine Republican candidates for president of the United States… So we’re going to focus on issues Iowans say they still want to know more about. We won’t talk a lot about issues like Iraq or immigration. They are important issues, no doubt, but Iowans say they know where the candidates are coming from on those. Instead we’ll dig in on issues that need more clarification. Iraq or immigration may come up because, of course, everything is interrelated, but we’re not going to spend concentrated time on those.

I presume she’s referring to this poll by the paper, where 75 percent of Republicans said they thought Iraq was an important issue, but only 23 percent said they needed more information, and 81 percent said immigration was an important issue, but 34 percent said they needed more information.
The first question was, “Do you agree our country’s financial situation creates a security risk, and why are why not?”. Well, according to that poll, 62 percent said “the nation’s long-term debt” was an important issue, and 54 percent said they wanted more information.
That topic got two questions, with thirty seconds per answer, because of “What sacrifices would you ask Americans to make to lower the country’s debt, and I’d like you to be specific.” And then, “Senator Thompson, could you answer that? Are there programs or situations so important you’d be willing to run a deficit for them?”
The onto taxes, where the candidates had 15 seconds to answer, “I want to go down the line in reverse order and hear from everyone very briefly, please, 15 seconds or so, who in this country is paying more than a fair share of taxes relative to everyone else, the wealthy, the middle class, the poor, or corporations?” Taxes did rank highly on that DMR poll, with 78 percent saying the issue was important and 53 percent saying they wanted more information.
What’s your plan for keeping foreign markets open while protecting good-paying american jobs?
Global warming? All of 21 percent of Republicans said they thought it was an important issue to them.

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