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The IDEA Guide to the 2012 U.S. Presidential Debates

Every four years, the American presidential debates capture the attention of the U.S. media and news outlets around the world. As the most-watched debates in the world, they provide insight into each candidate’s policies and put democracy on display. But the debates frequently leave us wanting more, as the candidates often dodge questions, repeat 30-second sound bites, and only discuss important issues on a surface level. What can we learn about each candidate from the debates? What are their positions on key issues like health care and U.S.-China relations? What is the role of public discourse in the world’s most significant election?

The essays in this book analyze the role that the presidential debates play in the election and identify specific issues that President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney could discuss, providing introductory context and explaining both candidates’ positions. These issue briefs serve as a guide to watching the debates and following the campaign, as well as an entry point for researching and understanding key topics on a deeper level. They also highlight how different policies affect young people. Foreign, domestic, and economic policy issues will be covered, including some of the most pressing topics of the day: 

  • Afghanistan 
  • Campaign Finance
  • China
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Executive Power in Foreign Policy
  • Foreign Aid and Development
  • Healthcare
  • Immigration
  • Iran
  • Gay Marriage
  • National Debt
  • Public Safety and Civil Liberty
  • Russia
  • Taxes
  • Unemployment
  • Unions and Public Employees


If you have any questions, please contact Jackson Tucker.

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