Cheney, Lieberman to face off tonight

Emily Brink

Two days after the first presidential debate, the Republican and Democratic vice presidential candidates will have their own opportunity to debate each other tonight, but campus political leaders doubt the debate will affect voters.

Dick Cheney, running mate of Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush, will face off against Joseph Lieberman, who is on the ballot with Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore. The debate, which will be held in Kentucky, will last 90 minutes.

Vice presidential candidates are significant in the election because they have the potential of becoming the leader of this country, said Steffen Schmidt, university professor of political science. He said he feels the public should watch because it is not an irrelevant matter. “You should ask yourself, `Would I want this person to be in charge if something were to happen to the president?'” Schmidt said.

Though it does not have the prominence of the presidential debates, it is still important for voters to watch, said Jason Darrah, president of the College Republicans.

“This debate will create further contrast between the two candidates,” said Darrah, senior in political science.

However, Darrah said the debate probably will have little effect on the outcome of the election. “Traditionally, the vice presidential debates have not had a big impact on the winner,” he said. “This debate will most likely not affect the race in the long run but could affect the undecided vote.”

Polls are showing that the undecided vote is increasingly important in this election. A tracking poll conducted this week by CNN, USA Today and Gallup show Bush and Gore in a close race.

Aaron Fister, president and producer of ISU-9’s Politics Unlimited, said he expects the debate to be more aggressive than the first presidential debate. He said he will be watching to see if Lieberman will remain issue-oriented and avoid personal attacks, much like Gore did in Tuesday’s presidential debate.

“The vice presidential nominees can always do more attacking because they have less to lose,” said Fister, junior in management information systems.

The 90-minute debate will air at 8 tonight on the networks CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and Fox News.