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'Candidates' debate at Canyon

Students pose as Obama, Biden, McCain, Palin

Posted: November 1, 2008 8:20 p.m.
Updated: January 3, 2009 5:00 a.m.

Liz Renfrow represented vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

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Gov. Sarah Palin wore her standard partial updo and signature eyeglasses while Sen. Barack Obama sported pink hair - and was female.

The students in Larry Dubin's government class at Canyon High School impersonated the candidates Thursday in their own presidential debate.

Students posing as Obama, Sen. Joe Biden, Sen. John McCain and Palin took questions from six students representing the media for an hour-long session filled with tough questions about major issues.

Topics included immigration, Troopergate, the economy, school funding, health care and what the candidates have to offer as the next president or vice president of the United States. The four students in the hot seat had to research the candidate they represented and give answers based on that candidate's policies.

"I researched Palin on the Internet and just learned her views about everything," said Canyon senior Liz Renfrow, who represented the Republican candidate for vice president in the debate. "Still, there were a couple of questions that I just didn't know, so I had to kind of figure out what I thought she would say."

Senior Dustin Schelske, who portrayed McCain, took detailed notes from the candidate's Web site and watched all of the debates on television to get some tips.

"That helped, so I knew how to rebut and such," Dustin said. "But I wish they had asked me about the war in Iraq or about energy, because I was really ready for that. I think the media asked a lot of good questions though."

Even though he had three pages of notes on all of the major issues, senior Eric Rigg, who portrayed Biden, said he was still nervous before the debate.

"I was nervous because I didn't know what they were going to ask and I didn't want to be caught off guard," Eric said.

Senior Marcee Helbig, who played Obama, said she wasn't prepared for every question the media asked - however she was prepared for many questions they didn't ask.

"I know a lot about abortion, alternative energy and the war, so I wish they had asked me about that," Marcee said. "Plus it was hard because I got really nervous."

Dubin's class has been focusing on the election since the beginning of the school year.

"This is the conclusion of the whole election cycle and we've been following it since the beginning," Dubin said. "It's been a very interesting election."

Students who normally wouldn't be interested in politics have really gotten into this year's election, Dubin said.

"It's kind of sad that most of these students can't vote, because they know more about the issues than a lot of Americans," he said.

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