Amid recent allegations of planted questions at Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign rallies, CNN Washington Bureau Chief David Bohrman said Wednesday that measures have been taken to ensure that nothing similar will happen at Thursday's Democratic debate.
During the debate a group of 100 undecided Democrats and Independents selected by CNN will be given the chance to ask the candidates questions. Bohrman stressed the fact that the group was carefully screened by CNN to keep out any questions or questioners that could compromise the legitimacy of the question-and-answer segment.
"Nobody wants or expects planted questions," he said. "We booked the crowd and we pretty much know what their interests are.
"We think we've eliminated any plants."
After a Clinton rally in Iowa, Grinnell College student Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff told the school's newspaper that she was approached by a Clinton staffer and asked to pose certain questions to Clinton about global warming.
Clinton denied any knowledge of such events, but the Clinton staff acknowledged that they did in fact recommend a certain question to a student.
Such controversy, however, is not likely to diminish from interest in the debate.
Held at Cox Pavilion, Bohrman described today's event as "two debates in one."
The first hour will consist of trigger questions from CNN panelists Campbell Brown and John Roberts, with moderator Wolf Blitzer asking follow-up questions.
After a break, the 100 undecided voters will have their chance to pose their own questions to the candidates.
"They get a really unique opportunity," Bohrman said. "They get the chance to ask questions of someone who might be the next president of the United States."
Even after a number of debates among the Democratic candidates this campaign season, Bohrman said both the public and candidates are eager to see more debates happen.
"The interest in the debates is still really high," he said. "The candidates realize they're almost out of time."
He added that with the debate's Las Vegas location a variety of unique issues are likely to be at the forefront during the event.
"It's nice to have a western state in these early caucus primaries," he said. "There will naturally be some issues raised that are western issues."
Still, Bohrman assured that when it comes to these kinds of things it's best to expect the unexpected.
"Make no mistake, debates take on a life of their own."
© 2007 The Rebel Yell via U-WIRE