EDINA, Minn. -- High school debate classes across the country will be paying particularly close attention to Tuesday's presidential debate, but Edina High School's debate coach says he doesn't want his students to emulate what they see on TV.
"I think that the presidential debates are focused much more on rhetoric than on substance," says debate director Dan Kauppi.
Kauppi teaches Edina High School's award winning debate team and says an academic debate is scored by judges, forcing participants to be much more factual. It's a burden the presidential candidates don't have.
"There is no one there to tell them no, you have to talk about what the moderator says," says Kauppi. "A lot of times they do their best not to directly answer questions and not to make very factual comparisons on the issues."
In today's political world it's the awkward smiles and forceful quips that really grab viewers attention.
"A lot of people view these as kind of entertainment and spectacle," says Kauppi.
Edina High School senior Jon Yang has been watching the debates closely. While he criticizes the factual inadequacies, he has learned some style points from the candidates.
"Whichever candidate feels more confident, more powerful, usually is the one who looks like he's winning," says Yang.
But when it comes to winning debate trophies, it's usually the substance that matters most.
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