Everything about the 2008 presidential campaign is happening earlier this time around—including the fatigue that sets in after a few too many primary debates. Slate needs your help to make our upcoming candidate forum different from what you've already seen— really different.
We're calling our event, which we're co-sponsoring with our friends at Yahoo! and the Huffington Post, a Candidate Mashup. The You Tube/CNN debate took a big step in letting Web users submit questions. We and our partners want to take an even bigger step in putting users in control of the experience of watching a candidate event.
Here's how our mashup will work: All eight Democratic candidates have agreed to sit for a 15-minute interview with our moderator, Charlie Rose, on Sept. 12. Each of them will answer (or at least be asked) questions formulated by the users of our three sites about the same set of topics. Two days later, on Sept. 14, the mashup feature will go live on Yahoo!. Users will be able to compare and contrast any group of candidates they select on any of the subjects covered. So, for example, you'll be able to put Obama and Clinton side by side on Iraq. Or Edwards, Dodd, and Kucinich. Or just watch Biden on everything. Or compare all eight candidates on education.
The three subjects, as chosen last week by more than 100,000 users who voted on Yahoo!, will be the war in Iraq, health care, and education. The questions within those topics will be tailored to the individual candidates. There will also be a wild card question on any subject at all. Among the runners up in the Yahoo! voting were energy, the environment, gay marriage, abortion, immigration, and terrorism.
For viewers who like their potatoes baked instead of mashed, Slate will host the full 15-minute interviews with each candidate. We'll also post a lot of background about the topics and the candidates, and host a lot of discussion among our editors and readers about the responses.
Here's how you can participate. Submit your really good question for one or more of the candidates in text, audio, or video to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please indicate which category your question falls under: Iraq, health care, education, or wild card. If your question is in audio or video form, please send us a link rather than a digital file—though we may ask you for a file if we want to post it on Slate or use it in the debate. There won't be time to ask all the good questions at the event, of course. But we'll feature the best and most interesting questions on Slate as part of our discussion around the mashup. And if you have questions for the Republican candidates, hang on to them. We're hoping to serve up some mashed Republicans later this fall.