WWE Superstars, Students, Elected Officials To Debate Bush, Kerry Responses To National Voter Issues Paper For 18-to 30-Year-Olds In Live National Debate
World Wrestling Entertainment(R) and University of Miami to Present Debate on Wednesday, September 29, at the University of Miami
STAMFORD, Conn., Aug 26, 2004 (BUSINESS WIRE) — The voices of 18-to 30-year-old Americans will be heard at a presidential debate eve forum sponsored by WWE’s Smackdown Your Vote! (R), a non-partisan campaign that has pledged to increase voter turnout of 18-to 30-year-olds by 10 percent in this election, and the University of Miami.
The first-ever Smackdown Your Vote! Debate will be held at the Gusman Concert Hall on the University of Miami Coral Gables campus, on Wednesday, Sept. 29, the night before the first in a series of debates between President George Bush and Senator John Kerry. The debate is being produced by the WWE in consultation with the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Current WWE Champion John “Bradshaw” Layfield (TM) and WWE Superstar and New York Times best selling author Mick Foley (TM) will be among those participating. Other participants, including students and elected officials, will be announced in mid-September.
The Smackdown Your Vote! Debate will focus on the answers given by President Bush and Senator Kerry to The 18-30 VIP, the first ever national voter issues paper presented by WWE and its Smackdown Your Vote! partners. The 18-30 VIP covers issues important to young Americans of voting age – such as the economy, Iraq, and education — as determined by research conducted by various organizations, including Harvard University. Organizations that support the VIP are the Harvard Institute of Politics, MTV’s Choose or Lose, the League of Women Voters, Rock The Vote, New Voters Project, Hip-Hop Team Vote, 18to35, Declare Yourself, Youth Vote Coalition, The University of Virginia Center for Politics, Close Up/First Vote, George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management, and the National Council of LaRaza.
“We want to show all the disenfranchised 18-30’s out there that the candidates are taking them seriously, and that they can make a difference in the outcome of this election,” said Layfield, who is co-chair of Smackdown Your Vote!. “The presidential candidates have responded to The 18-30 VIP, now it’s our turn to respond to them.”
WWE Chairman Vince McMahon (TM) said the debate will focus on issues in the election, and what needs to be done to effect change once the election is over. “Younger Americans have some excellent ideas on how to address the issues important to them, which we want to bring out in this debate,” said McMahon. “More importantly, we want this debate to inspire more 18-to 30-year-old Americans to vote in this election so that lawmakers at the federal and state levels, when they take office in 2005, will pay more attention to addressing the issues important to this age group.”
The WWE and the Smackdown Your Vote! partners have set the goal of getting 20 million 18-to 30-year-olds to the polls in November, an increase in turnout of two million, or 10 percent, for this age group from the 2000 elections.
In addition, the WWE, the Commission on Presidential Debates and the University of Miami are partnering to undertake a civic education initiative in the Miami area at local schools during the week of the Smackdown Your Vote! Debate.
The University of Virginia Center for Politics and its Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI) are using The 18-30 VIP and the debate as part of curriculum materials for 10,000 teachers nationwide. YLI conducts the largest secure on-line mock election in the nation in October, using electronic cyber-ballots tailored to each student’s home congressional district. The 2004 YLI Mock Election will include presidential and congressional races in all 50 states as well as this fall’s 11 gubernatorial races.
Smackdown Your Vote!, founded in July 2000, is a non-partisan approach to getting young people involved in the political process and registered to vote. Through Smackdown Your Vote!, WWE has collaborated with many non-profit, non-partisan organizations to engage 18-to-30-year-olds in the political process. including the League of Women Voters, the Youth Vote Coalition, Rock The Vote, Harvard Institute of Politics, MTV Choose or Lose, New Voters Project, 18-to-35, and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network. The collaborative program’s goal is to get 20 million 18-to 30-year-olds to the polls in 2004, an increase of two million over the election turnout in 2000. In addition to conducting voter registration at WWE live events, Smackdown Your Vote! will visit high schools and colleges across the country conducting voter registration rallies. For information on the program go to smackdownyourvote.com.
The University of Miami’s mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of the diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world. www.miami.edu
For a complete listing of events, and more information on the Presidential Debate at the University of Miami, visit www.miami.edu/debate04
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