Sept. 26 debate: WFU students to watch debate/experts available

Watching the Debate

Wake Forest University students, including those participating in the Wake the Vote program, will gather Sept. 26 to watch the first presidential debate at the University’s Pro Humanitate Institute (2599 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem, N.C.). The debate begins at 9 p.m.

Several professors, including Allan Louden, professor of communication and an expert on debates, will join their students.

Wake the Vote is a program combining classroom and real-world political experience. Wake the Vote students have spent 2016 examining issues central to the presidential election and have attended the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primaries, the Democratic and Republican Conventions and a variety of other election-related events.

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WFU Student Contributes Perspective to Debate Questions


Ryan Wolfe

Wake Forest junior Ryan Wolfe is among 150 college students from across the country working with CollegeDebate16 a national organization partnering with the Commission on Presidential Debates to identify the top youth issues and draft questions to present to the presidential debate moderators. “At College Debate, students of all different backgrounds and political persuasions were able to have productive discourse on questions that millennials want the moderators to ask,” Wolfe said. The questions they created included “What specific circumstances would prompt the United States to use military resources in a foreign country?” and “How will you ensure quality education to areas of socioeconomic disadvantage both in terms of K-12 and access to higher education? “This project has helped the CollegeDebate16 delegates interact with other students on their campuses to find out the most important issues to them.” Wolfe will watch the debate with the group Monday night.

WFU Professors Offer Debate Insights

Wake Forest University communication and debate experts offer insights into the upcoming presidential debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

  • Allan Louden, communication professor and expert on political debates, said there is “high drama potential for trainwrecks” with viewership not seen since the Nixon/Kennedy debate. “People are going to watch because of the unpredictability, because of the personalities involved,” he said. “My prediction is it’s going to be bigger than or as big, almost, as the Super Bowl.” He has provided expert commentary and analysis for USA TodayThe Los Angeles Times, MSNBCNewsweek and a wide range of other media outlets
  • John Llewellyn, former speechwriter and political consultant, studies and teaches rhetoric, analyzing persuasive language from the nation’s most prominent politicians, coaches and civil rights leaders. He said there are two axioms about debates: Make no glaring errors that can be used in the long term to cast doubt on your judgment or competence and demonstrate or enact stability and competence in the debate itself. But, he said one candidate is unlikely to follow these rules.
  • Jarrod Atchison, who heads the championship WakeForest debate team, said Trump’s “debate style is new to political discourse and beyond the realm of decorum for many people. “Trump is a master of several techniques the most effective of which is called ‘the turn-around’ – understanding when to take another person’s argument and through re-characterization, present it as something the audience would object to.

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Meet the News Team

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John Llewellyn

Associate Professor of Communication

Llewellyn is a scholar of rhetoric, analyzing persuasive language from the most prominent politicians, coaches and civil rights leaders.

Allan Louden

Department Chair and Professor of Communication

Louden is an expert in political communication, presidential rhetoric and argumentation theory.

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