Although President Obama and Mitt Romney have gone to great pains to ensure that tonight’s town hall debate on Long Island is as lacking in spontaneity and surprises as possible, there is one thing they can’t control: the audience. They’re pretty much free to say whatever they want, however they want, presenting all sorts of pitfalls for the candidates. Here are the ten people of whom Obama and Romney should be most wary.
Knows-Better-Than-You-From-Personal-Experience Guy: You’ve said something that directly contradicts this person’s own experiences, and he doesn’t appreciate it. You can either admit that you were wrong — which is not something politicians like to do — or you can tell Personal Experience Guy that he is wrong.
Religious Agenda Guy: This guy just wants the future president to acknowledge that Jesus is an important part of America’s founding, principles, and/or way of life. Your response is almost certainly going to insult somebody.
Personal Disdain Guy: This guy does not like you at all, and his question will be overtly negative. Do not snap at him.
Pledge Guy: This guy will put you on the spot in front of 70 million people with a request that you agree to some well-intentioned but probably ridiculous pledge.
Curveball Lady: She asks a question you could not have possibly prepared for, such as this “Zen-like” one from 2008.
Accountability Guy: This guy, who will almost certainly sport a close-cropped mustache, will ask you to refuse to run again if you don’t meet certain overly specific goals.
Fed-Up-With-the-Tone Lady: This lady does not like how this election has been going, what with all the negativity. Difficulty level of answering this question without blaming or attacking your opponent, and thus pissing off Fed-Up-With-the-Tone Lady even more? 9 out of 10.
Confusing Question Lady: This lady asks a question that doesn’t even make sense; perhaps it implies that the national debt is causing people to miss their car payments. She then gets irritated when you can’t provide a satisfactory answer.
Impossible Prediction Guy: This guy would like you to make a specific prediction about something totally unknowable, such as when your party will nominate an African-American or woman to be president.
The Weirdo: Try not to laugh when a Weirdo refers to the voters as the symbolic children of the future president.