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Democratic forum offers break from debate lineup

Democratic+forum
Photo by By Regan Brunsvold
Democratic forum

The remaining Democratic candidates — down from a speculated six to three — will have a chance to further introduce themselves to voters during Friday’s Democratic forum.
The forum will be hosted by MSNBC — the same network which hosted the last Republican debate — and will be moderated by Rachel Maddow, host of “The Rachel Maddow Show.” The forum will begin at 7 p.m. Central Time and is not one of the six debates sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee, but candidates will still be given the opportunity to answer questions regarding to their campaign.
President of Aggie Democrats and geophysics senior Amol Shalia said the forum will serve as a platform for candidates to present their ideas without the worry of cutting each other off.
“In my view it takes away the combative nature of a debate,” Shalia said. “It’s just the candidate and the journalist. They will have the time to more effectively explain and introduce themselves to the American public watching. It allows the candidate to get more in depth with talking about their ideas and philosophies of governing.”
Kirby Goidel, a fellow at the Public Policy Research Institute and communication professor, said the forum will allow viewers to learn more about the individual candidates than what a debate may allow.
“I think the big thing is getting some national exposure,” Goidel said. “Since the forums are separate conversations rather than everyone in a group, it allows people more insight into the individual candidate. I actually think it’s probably a better format for people to learn about candidates which is what you want from this stage of the process.”
Since the last debate, Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb both disbanded their campaigns, clearing the way for Sanders and O’Malley, but especially Clinton to grab their voters, Goidel said.
“I think she solidified some support with the last debate and somebody who was going to vote for Jim Webb isn’t going to vote for Bernie Sanders,” Goidel said. “Lincoln Chafee, maybe, but probably not, because they’re both sort of moderate democrats and not of the Bernie Sanders more progressive type.”
Shortly after the last debate, Vice President Joe Biden also announced he would not be running, a
disappointment to those who had hoped for a different candidate than Clinton, Goidel said. Now, however, Goidel said those votes will likely fall to Clinton.
“I think a lot of people were sort of holding out on Hillary and maybe even sort of tentatively supporting Bernie Sanders while there was that cloud about would Biden jump into the race,” Goidel said. “When his shadow was gone from the race, a lot of people sort of reevaluated and said, ‘well we have one candidate here who is probably more electable than the other one.’”
One candidate who has a chance to shine during the forum is former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. While his numbers haven’t skyrocketed, he’s still running a steady campaign, Goidel said, and has to prove himself this forum if he wants to remain in the race at all.
“He didn’t have the presence that you would expect someone to have who’s going to be a serious presidential candidate contender,” Goidel said. It’s possible he could do better because of the format change but I think he needs a better presence.”
Sanders performed well online after the last debate, and has since released a few campaign ads. Clinton, though, has garnered the most support, Goidel said, so Sanders will be looking to distinguish himself from the former Secretary of State.
“I think you’re going to see him maybe want to draw the distinction between himself and Hillary Clinton in a stronger and clearer fashion,” Goidel said. “He can hang around for a while in terms of the campaign but he’s sort of at a critical point where he’s been building momentum and now it faded and he would like to be in position where’s he’s recapturing some of the momentum and pointing out ‘Hey I’m here, too. There’s a reason you liked me earlier.’”
Shalia echoed this, saying Sanders still has things to prove to voters.
“Bernie has to convince Democrats that he is a viable alternative to Hillary, that he is electable,” Shalia said.

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