4 Questions Being Posed to Presidential Candidates via Petition

On Wednesday night, 11 Republican candidates for president will hop behind their podiums for the second round of GOP debates.

Hosted by CNN at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, the debate is likely to draw big audiences. The first debate, which was hosted by Fox News and Facebook five weeks ago, drew a record 24 million viewers, making it “the surprise must-see TV event of the summer,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Of course, those ratings were driven, in large part, by Donald Trump, who is currently leading in the polls and whose unpredictableness makes for entertaining television.

Much of the Fox News debate was overshadowed by Trump’s exchanges with moderator Megyn Kelly. Jake Tapper, the moderator for CNN’s debate who anchors The Lead and State of the Union, said that during this debate “we want them to debate not with me but each other.”

Getting candidates to debate each other means coming up with great questions about the complex issues facing our country. So as we prepare for the debate on Wednesday night, we thought you’d like to see what questions people on want to hear the candidates answer.


Here are four issues that Americans like you are asking – via petition – for presidential candidates to answer:

1. Tell us your position on paid family leave

The United States is one of only three countries in the world that does not offer some form of paid leave—the others are Suriname and Papua New Guinea. Amy Keller Laird, Editor-in-Chief of Women’s Health Magazine, wants to see that change. She’s asking every presidential candidate to release his or her official position on paid family leave. Laird is also asking that a question about paid leave be included in the presidential debates.

2. Tell us how you will fix America’s broken justice system

According to the U.S. Justice Action Network, 69% of Americans think it is important for the country to reduce its prison population, which we spend $80 billion on every year. So the organization started a petition asking presidential candidates to explain how they plan to address the issues with the country’s justice system while better protecting public safety.

3. Tell us how you plan to deal with climate change

The Environmental Defense Action Fund thinks there wasn’t enough talk about climate change during the 2012 presidential election. So, this time around they’ve started a petition asking CNN and other broadcasters to ensure that they question candidates during the debates about how they will get the climate back on track.

4. Tell us your stance on taking in refugees from Syria

While Americans are asking President Obama to resettle Syrian refugees in the U.S., petition starter Judy Bost is looking ahead. She’s asking CNN to make sure to question every presidential candidate about their position on letting Syrian refugees into the U.S.

What question do you want the presidential candidates to answer? Start a petition and get an answer.

People aren’t only using petitions to try to influence the questions that candidates are asked. They are using petitions to shape the language of the debate as well.

Yesterday, a petition calling on CNN to drop the use of the word “illegal” when referring to immigrants achieved victory with 3,600 signatures. CNN responded that use of the word “illegal” as a stand-alone noun or in reference to someone’s immigration status is against its policy.

Define American and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the organizations that started the petition, suggest that news outlets use the terms “undocumented immigrant,” or “undocumented American” instead. They are now asking the New York Times to prohibit the use of the word “illegal” when referring to undocumented Americans.


Want to shape the next presidential debate?

Written by
Mallory A. Russell
September 15, 2015 6:32 pm