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A Conversation With The One USU Student Selected To Attend The Vice Presidential Debate


Seating for tonight’s vice presidential debate is very limited as part of the coronavirus mitigation efforts. However, there are some lucky university students who will get to attend in person, including Max Roberts from Utah State University. UPR’s Eliza Hardy spoke with him ahead of tonight's debate to see what he is looking forward to.

Eliza Hardy: Thank you so much Max for joining me. First I’d like to ask you, what you’re studying at Utah State University? 

Max Robert: I am studying journalism and political science, with minors in marketing and anticipatory intelligence.

EH: How did you get the opportunity of going to the debate tonight? 

MR: I guess it's not really a long story. But last spring, I interned for the House of Representatives through the Institute of Government Politics (at Utah State Universtiy.) And then this year, that organization on campus asked me to serve on their student advisory board. And one of the faculty advisors is also in my political science professors, Robert Ross, and he is on the Utah Debate Commission. And they were each given a ticket for one student from each of the universities other than the University of Utah to attend the debate tonight.

EH: What are you hoping to see tonight? 

MR: I think this debate is going to be very interesting compared to last week's presidential debate. I mean, last week's debate was chaotic, to say the least. And I think this week, at least for myself, and hopefully what a lot of other voters are looking for, is for some sign of stability from the vice presidential candidates.

I think voters, and myself, we want to see and we want to actually hear a clear message from the candidates. And then last week, I think, for the most part, the debate really just reaffirmed to voters who they have already decidied for. It just really reaffirmed their existing decision. But for maybe a few in the middle, it just confused them even more.

And so I think this debate is going to be especially important for, you know, the candidates to talk about those really important issues, like COVID-19, racial justice, the Supreme Court nomination. All of those I think voters actually want to hear, you know, what the actual positions are. Because last week, no one got that.

EH:Will this debate change your vote?

MR: So for myself, I have already decided who I'm going to vote for and I honestly don't see a huge chance of my vote moving to the other direction. But I do think that it's possible for a few voters to maybe switch sides or to maybe actually make that decision.

This is like really nerdy political science talk. But historically, debates don't really change a lot of public opinion. If anything it just, you know, it just solidifies what people are going to do. So rather than listen to change my opinion, or change my decision at this point, I think I'm just more looking for some clarity from both sides, as well as hopefully some just some show of support and confidence in our electoral process.

EH: Thank you so much for your time, Max. For those of us who weren’t lucky enough to get into the debate hall at the University of Utah, UPR will be broadcasting the event live at 7 p.m. tonight.