For a look behind the curtain, here are the rules for the first debate:

To: Representative Tom Petri, Jef Hall, Carol Rittenhouse
From: David Siemers, Dept. of Political Science, UW-Oshkosh
Re: Debate set-up and formatCandidates-

Thanks again for participating in next Monday's forum. You each are doing a service to the voters in the 6th Congressional District by appearing. My goal is a debate which illuminates your differences on the issues, which is simultaneously cordial and respectful of the office of U.S. Representative.

As you know, the debate will be held in the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh's Reeve Union (Room 227), beginning at 6PM. The parking lots in between High and Algoma Streets nearest the Union are available for you and others from off campus to park in. The lot at the corner of John Street and Elmwood Ave. should also have spaces available. I hope to begin promptly, and once we start, the debate will last for 75 minutes. The three of you will each be standing at podiums on a raised stage, as will I. Each podium has its own microphone. Regional media outlets have been invited to the event.

We do not have a system of lights to warn you that you are running out of time. Therefore, I strongly recommend that each of you bring a watch which will help you conform to the time constraints set forth below. I will be keeping official time and will stop you if you go over the specified length for a response. While you may always use the full amount of time allotted to you, you need not use it all.

We will determine the order of speaking in the minutes before the debate begins. I will bring a bag with three Scrabble tiles in it, one marked "P," one marked "H," and one marked "R." One of you will choose a tile out of the bag, and the person whose last initial it is will choose to speak either first, second, or third. We will maintain this order throughout the debate. A second tile will be drawn and the person whose initial it is will choose among the two remaining spots. The candidate whose tile is not picked will take the remaining position.

Our format will be as follows:

Opening statements: each of you will be allotted 2 minutes (total time: approx. 6 min., order to be determined by the method outlined above).

Questions asked by the candidates: Each of you will pose two questions, one each to both of your opponents. The candidate responding to the question will be allotted 2 minutes; the candidate who posed the question will have 1 minute to respond to that answer; the original respondent will then have 30 seconds of rebuttal time. The candidate who delivers the first opening statement will ask his/her questions first, followed by the second candidate, then the third. Each candidate may choose which opponent to address first. Please keep your questions concise (total time: approx. 21 min.).

Audience/Moderator questions: Before the debate I will have circulated 4X6 cards on which audience members will write questions directed at specific candidates. I will choose which of these questions to ask and I may also ask questions I have formulated. The candidate I ask the question of will have 2 minutes to speak. Both other candidates may, at their discretion, deliver a 1 minute response. After the 1 minute response(s), the candidate I originally asked the question of will have 1 minute of rebuttal time. Depending on time, each of you will be asked 3 or 4 questions (total time: approx. 45 mins.)Closing statements: each of you will be allotted 1 minute (total time: approx. 3 min., speaking order is the same as above)

I look forward to seeing you next Monday, the 18th. Should you have any questions or concerns, do let me know (920) 424-0435 or siemers@uwosh.edu.Sincerely,David SiemersAssociate ProfessorUniversity of Wisconsin-Oshkosh


When do you develop plans?

"The strategy — already largely outlined by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other top officials in recent weeks — was developed over the summer as Democratic presidential challenger John Kerry was accusing President Bush of lacking a coherent plan to end the rising violence and pave the way for the withdrawal of American troops."

Shouldn't Bush have developed the plan in Jan 2003.