AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — In just 50 days, voters will head to the polls. To help Mainers answer any lingering questions, the University of Maine at Augusta hosted a few experts for its Forums on the Future event.
Before the forum, NEWS CENTER got the panelists' take on what they said is a rather unusual year.
Colby Colby's Dept. of Government chair Sandy Maisel said he and University of Maine political science professor Mark Brewer were asked to come talk about the platforms and not about the campaigns. In short, panel organizers think too much attention has been paid to candidates instead of the actual platforms that dived Democrats and Republicans.
"It seems to me it's important for people in Maine to understand that there are issues that have traditionally divided the two parties other than the personalities that divide the two candidates," Maisel said.
Neither he or Brewer expected Donald Trump to make it as far in the campaign as he has done, and while Hillary Clinton may have clinched the Democratic nomination, they said it doesn't mean she's run a perfect campaign.
"Hillary Clinton is clearly a flawed candidate. She maybe scared off other Democrats who maybe would have been more palatable to voters," Brewer said.
As far as campaign issues are concerned, the professors said Trump has certainly created some unusual moments. But candidate health, a topic exacerbated by Clinton's pneumonia diagnosis, they said isn't news.
"Health has presented itself in past elections. If you look back to 2008, there was a lot of concern over [Obama's] health going in," Brewer said. "In terms of things like the Donald Trump hotel tour, I think that is very much an outlier for American presidential campaigns."
Either way, if you're like the panelists, the issues are more substantive than the people themselves.
As the official presidential debates draw closer, how the nominees may affect those issues is what at least one expert says you should watch out for.
"Well, I think you have to pay attention to who is going to be the better president," Maisel said. "I think that really is an important issue."
The first presidential debate takes place Monday, Sept. 26.
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