Voters pose questions for Democrats’ town hall
August 14, 2008
DENVER ” Kelly Gottschalk stood on busy downtown corner, collecting her thoughts after a cameraman wearing an Obama sticker asked what she’d like to know from national Democratic leaders.
“What are your plans to fix the economy we’re in?” said Gottschalk, a Denver investment banker. “I don’t see any hope.”
She was among more than a dozen people who videotaped questions Wednesday as Democrats gathered material for town hall-style segments for their nominating convention in Denver starting Aug. 25.
Democrats also taped questions Wednesday in Atlanta; Columbus, Ohio; Detroit; Philadelphia; Raleigh, N.C.; and Tampa and planned tapings Thursday in Richmond, Va.
All the cities are in potential swing states in Barack Obama’s campaign battle with Republican John McCain.
Ray Bethune, 80, asked McCain and Obama a question during a taping in Decatur, Ga., six miles outside of Atlanta. A retired Air Force purchasing agent, Bethune said he wanted to know if either candidate would provide “decent health care” for everyone in the country.
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“Almost 50 million Americans are without health insurance,” he said. “I want to know how the $6 or $8 an hour hamburger flippers are going to have affordable health insurance.”
In Raleigh, Brandy Bynum, a child advocate, also asked what could be done to make sure health insurance is available to working families, especially those with small children.
“I have several family members (who are) full-time workers but cannot afford health insurance for themselves, let alone their young children,” said Bynum, 29, who works as a child advocate.
Mandy Ableidinger, 32, also a child advocate, asked about poverty, saying it’s to blame for such problems as inadequate health coverage and poor education.
“What can we do to improve our anti-poverty policies so that my kids won’t have to deal with these types of issues when they grow up?” she asked.
At Tommy’s Diner in Columbus, social worker David Baxter wanted to know when the country was going to put the same effort into developing alternative energy as it put into the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bomb.
“When are we going to start on this?” Baxter said. “It’s way past time.”
J.P. Dillow of Columbus also asked about energy, though his outlook was different than Baxter’s.
“When are you gonna start drilling for oil?” he asked repeatedly.
Tommy’s Diner is in an area that is reeling from the closure of a nearby auto plant.
The segments, dubbed “American’s Town Hall,” will air the first three nights of the convention.
The Democratic National Convention Committee says it’s a way to “throw open the doors.”
The DNCC’s move to answer questions from the convention floor as well as take questions online is the latest in a presidential race that has also seen candidates turn to social networking Web sites for organizing and CNN-YouTube debates.
“We want to make sure we’re addressing what’s on people’s minds,” committee spokeswoman Natalie Wyeth said. “We’re looking to technology to do that.”
The committee says national policy experts and convention speakers will answer the questions.