Debate Night: Too Many, Too Long?

"I would never want to moderate a debate like that, or be in a debate like that"

Tom Puckett
September 12, 2019 - 4:00 am

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Buffalo, NY (WBEN) Ten candidates, three hours, one debate. You'll hear the Democratic presidential primary debate tonight on WBEN. But one local debate moderator says this is a recipe for disaster.

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"I would never want to moderate a debate like that, or be in a debate like that," says Ted Lina, who moderates debates at St. Joe's Collegiate Institute. "The only thing that can happen is a candidate can get hurt by saying the wrong thing during the debate." Lina says with the format, you can't develop your answers.

Lina says the length of the debate may be too long for the average viewer. "The normal voter's not going to watch three hours of a primary debate with ten candidates, knowing that one or none of them will be the candidate next year," explains Lina. "I hate to say this but the average voter is not as well informed as they should be, and you also are going to lose the viewers who already won't vote for a Democrat, or are not happy with the candidates currently running."

Lina says the Democrats have moved far to the progressive left. "That's clearly going to be used against them, because I don't believe the party is that far left-leaning," says Lina. "We tend to elect on both sides of the aisle more moderate candidates, and if you look at the front runners, they are the extremist in the Democrat party."

Lina believes a mistake will make headlines rather than a talking point, and whoever wins will have those comments used against them by the opposition party. 

Debate coverage begins at 7pm.

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