NEW YORK--MTV's "Choose or Lose", co-hosted with MySpace and the Associated Press, marked my first time in a live studio audience. It sure has been a trip; there are cameras just about everywhere, and MTV packed us all in like sardines. Right above my head is a giant flashing red-and-blue lightning bolt; I've been trying to make sure I don't smack against it.
MTV News anchor Gideon Yago introduced the candidates, all of whom were dialed in via videoconference from around the country: Barack Obama from Minneapolis; Hillary Clinton from Tucson, Ariz.; Ron Paul from Victoria, Texas; and Mike Huckabee from Montgomery, Ala. The event was structured as a "dialogue," not a debate, so each candidate answers questions individually.
Huckabee was the first candidate up, and the first question he asked was about how he would handle "sweeping change" like the sort that Democratic candidate Obama, a favorite among young voters, has promised. The former Arkansas governor focused on the economy, a theme that he retained through the rest of his answers. "Real change is all about making sure that the government knows it's supposed to work for us, and not the other way around," Huckabee answered, and started talking about shaking up the tax structure. "People in the student generation have a nine trillion dollar debt on top of their heads."
In between questions, moderators brought up live polling questions that were simultaneously conducted online as well as questions submitted through MySpace instant messages and MTV News' Web site.
Huckabee did seem slightly taken aback when he was asked to answer a question coming from a MySpaceIM user named "TurnMyLipsBlue."