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Here’s the debate people want


Below, I’ve laid out some of the questions that stood out to me most, with some small edits for clarity and style. Hope you’re reading, Jake and Dana. No need to thank us!

The 2024 election is a contest between two men who have a cold, hard record of being president, which many of you hope the moderators will dig into. James Hall, an independent voter from Colorado, offered a question I liked for its directness.

What have you done that makes you think you deserve to be the president of the United States again?

Anne McKelvey, a lifelong Pennsylvanian, wants to know about both men’s regrets.

What do you feel was your biggest mistake during your presidency?

Many of you want the stakes for democracy to be clearly spelled out onstage — especially when it comes to Trump’s plans for a second term. You want him to be asked directly about his promise to be a “dictator” on Day 1, and about my colleagues’ reporting that he plans to use the government to seek revenge on his political opponents.

You also have economic questions about his plans to carry out mass deportations, like this query from Patty Vick of Pittsford, N.Y.

How much would deportation cost and how would you make up the more than $11 billion in revenue the U.S. receives from illegal immigrants?

A lot of you want Trump to be pressed on whether he will honor the results of the 2024 election. And the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is on many minds, including that of Betsy Stengel of Massachusetts, who mentioned two Capitol Police officers who have become critics of Trump.

If you were face to face with Capitol Police officers Michael Fanone and Harry Dunn, how would you respond to their experiences on Jan. 6, 2021?

Biden will most likely talk about the economic gains of his presidency. But Judy Dunn of Southborough, Mass., is among many who want him to face tough questions about high prices.

I would like Biden to address the real pain that inflation has caused everyday people. I’d also like to know how he would address growing income inequality.

Issues like abortion rights, the economy and the nation’s role in overseas conflicts like the wars in Ukraine and Gaza have dominated the campaign, and we’re sure to hear them come up on Thursday night. But many of you want to hear about issues that are getting less attention. Here’s an important one from Fred Ruck:

How would you handle another pandemic if it occurred?

Darrin Fitzgerald of Massachusetts offered a question that resonates with me, personally.

How might you help first-time buyers realize the American dream of owning a home?

And lots of you want the candidates to be asked if they believe in climate change and what they would do about it. Here’s one from Keith Hanssen of Montana:

I’d prefer they are asked repeatedly about climate change and what they plan on doing to address the expected rise in sea levels and other challenges scientists are warning about.

Paul Gelormino, of Portland, Ore., offered a series of what he called “practical” questions that perhaps we all should be able to answer.

1. Identify Ukraine on a map.

2. Name the first five U.S. presidents.

3. What was the Marshall Plan?

There’s always a question meant to showcase candidates’ softer side. Sometimes, they are asked what they admire about each other, though I’m not sure that’s the right question for a pair with as much mutual enmity as Trump and Biden have. But this suggestion from Patti Donnelly of Delaware has the potential to be revealing.

Who are your good friends, and what do you admire about them? What nonpolitical advice have they given you that has been inspiring or life-changing, if any? What would they say about you?

Trump is 78. Biden is 81. And a lot of you want both candidates to take that on directly, including John Caron, 66, of Winter Park, Fla.

“Why should anyone who will be 80 during the next term be allowed to run for president?”

Emir Sykes, of Seattle, wanted to take that question to a more existential — but potentially important — place.

How can both candidates answer to the fact that there’s a possibility that neither candidate may live to finish their term?

And M. Lambert, of Colorado, has a question about what’s next.

What will each candidate do, if elected or not, to attract better and more competent presidential candidates in the future?


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