"It's the beginning of everybody figuring out what the role of new media is in the election process," said David Bohrman, CNN's Washington bureau chief and the executive producer of the debate. It's Bohrman's job to assemble the CNN campaign set, clear the technological hurdles of having made-for-Web video and audio translate into TV and, with a team of CNN staffers and moderator Anderson Cooper, decide which questions will make it to air.Going into the debate, CNN puts Hillary Clinton ahead as the obvious frontrunner. Today's Rasmussen poll concurs, placing Hillary Clinton far out front at 38% followed by Barack Obama at a post-hype 25% and John Edwards at 14%.
"Literally anyone, anywhere has a chance to ask a question," Bohrman said. "They're unlike any questions posed to presidential candidates before."
A glance at YouTube, where the nearly 2,000 videos have been collected since June, proves it. The questions range from such serious topics as education, health care, global warming and energy policy to the kind of offbeat, humorous clips that YouTube is famous for. One pair from Tennessee, Jackie and Dunlap from RedStateUpdate.com, challenge Sens. John Edwards and Barack Obama to take off their shirts to see who is more buff.
Despite the format change incorporating YouTube into this debate, a Rasmussen Reports article suggests that the debates have little impact as polling shows that "46% of voters believe that the Democrats will end up nominating a white male in 2008."
As far as coverage goes, there's nothing on YouTube suggesting that they'll be streaming the debate live. A stream should be available at cnn.com. also DailyKOS is reporting that they have press passes and will be streaming coverage as the debate goes live. Their plan is for a panel of political bloggers to do live commentary from the spin room broadcasted over Ustream.tv.