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MU Expert Available for Media Commentary on Democratic Presidential Debate

April 24, 2007

Story Contact:  Bryan Daniels, 573-882-9144,

COLUMBIA, Mo. — On Thursday, the 2008 Democratic presidential hopefuls will meet face-to-face in South Carolina for the first of several debates. For 90 minutes, the eight declared candidates will discuss a range of topics such as domestic issues, foreign policy and the war in Iraq.

Voters will get their first opportunity to assess the candidates in a side-by-side evaluation.

The debate will be analyzed by Mitchell S. McKinney, associate professor of communication at the University of Missouri-Columbia and an international expert on presidential debates. His analysis will address questions such as:

  • In a debate that features a large field of candidates, how do viewers make distinctions among candidates of the same party whose positions on issues are often quite similar?
  • How do candidates emerge from a large field of candidates to distinguish themselves from their rivals?
  • How do early primary debates help organize a large field of candidates into the front runners, the contenders and the also-rans?
  • How do primary debates help the party and its voters address key issues such as candidate viability and electability?

In addition to advising several committees, McKinney has conducted extensive research of various candidates in their previous debate performances, including such candidates as George W. Bush and Al Gore in their 2000 presidential debates and John Kerry and John Edwards in their 2004 Democratic primary debates.

In 1992, he consulted with the Commission on Presidential Debates, advising the Commission on how debates could be structured in order to better educate citizens on significant campaign issues. The author of The 1992 Presidential Debates in Focus, McKinney has co-authored and edited four other books and numerous research articles on presidential debates.

Most recently, he advised the presidential debate committee of South Korea as Seoul officials planned their 2002 televised presidential debates.