Throughout the American presidential election campaign the presidential candidates hold debates*. This election season there are three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate (the vice presidential debate is tonight!). In these debates the candidates are asked questions, which are sometimes posed by a journalist or sometimes by members of the audience watching the debate. The questions the candidates are ask are usually about domestic** or foreign policy, and are relate to issues that are important to the American public. During the debate each candidate is given a chance to answer the same question, and then the person who answered the question first is sometimes allowed to make follow-up comments. The amount of time each candidate has to answer each question is limited in order to get in as many questions as possible and to keep the candidates from straying off topic.
In these debates the two candidates try to show how they are different (and better) from one another and they try to make their positions on policy known. This is a way for voters to get to know the candidates so the voters can make an informed choice when they vote. These debates are televised and now streamed live on the internet. Upwards of 60 million American’s watch these debates live, so it is important for the candidates to present a good image and try to convince the viewers to vote for them.
Tonight the two vice presidential candidates will debate for the one and only time during the election season. One reason the voters are interested in hearing from the vice presidential candidates is because if anything were to happen to the president, the vice president automatically becomes the president. Many people, including many Americans, wonder what exactly the Vice President does other than fill in for the president if something were to happen to him. Well, the vice president of the United States has many responsibilities including:
- voting in the Senate when it is necessary to break a tie
- acting as a spokesperson for the administration’s policies
- advising to the President
- taking over some ceremonial duties for the President in terms of meeting with foreign dignitaries and traveling abroad
The two vice presidential candidates in the current election are Joe Biden (Democrat) and Paul Ryan (Republican), who will be debating tonight.
*debate = a formal discussion on a particular topic in which opposing arguments are put forward
**domestic = of or relating to the home, home region, or home country