The Backpacker President

What would you ask at tonight's town-hall debate?

We've got less than a month to go before we collectively decide on a new president. Tonight, John McCain and Barack Obama will engage in a town hall debate, where an audience of 80 undecided voters (really?) gets to ask the candidates unfiltered questions. Our stumbling economy will likely top the list of voter queries, but if you could stumble in fresh off the trail, drop your pack, and plant your muddy boots on the dais, what would you ask?

In BACKPACKER's November issue, we asked Obama and McCain ten tough questions that matter most to backpackers and wilderness lovers. We covered the environment, drilling in ANWR, guns in national parks, and protecting future open spaces. Both candidates replied with frank and candid answers. Here's a taste:

BP: What experiences have affected your views on the environment?

Barack Obama: My connection to the earth was formed during my time in Hawaii, my birthplace. I think those of us who gre up in Hawaii have a particular attachment to the land and understand how fragile it is. When you are snorkeling through the coral reefs, you can see firsthand that a slight change in temperature or increase in sediment and runoff or change in acidification could end up destroying it all and making it unavailable for your children.

John McCain: I have viewed the tremendous harm that global warming has done to our planet. In Greenland, you can see the glaciers have receded dramatically. You can see the impact in northern Norway. You can go to the South Pole and see incredible damage. These are the visible and disturbing manifestations of climate change, and they should compel us to action.

The rest of our interview with the candidates appears in our November issue, on newsstands next week—check it out.

And again, assuming you could sneak into that town hall in Tennessee, what would you most want to ask the presidential candidates? Fire away in the comments section below.

— Ted Alvarez