WASHINGTON -- The public has a lot of questions for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney as the first debate Wednesday night in Denver approaches.
From coast to coast, Americans told Scripps television stations and newspapers what they most would like the candidates to address as they joust over domestic issues.
Kellee Adams, 41, of Klamath Falls, Ore., wants to know if either candidate would be willing to "stand alongside your soldiers on the front line of war ... with them in the trenches." Others want to ask what the contenders would do about climate change, the cost of higher education, Iran, illegal immigration, gas prices, getting out of Afghanistan and ending partisan gridlock.
Several readers responding to Scripps websites' requests for debate questions want specific and credible answers to how either candidate would create more jobs in a still-struggling economy.
"I don't want a politician's answer. I don't want you to go around Jack's barn; just give me a straight answer," demanded Kathryne Pochop, 69, of Redding, Calif.
Some still question Obama's birth certificate and Romney's Mormonism, but others, frustrated at a dysfunctional Washington, would ask the candidates if they'd endorse specific policies.
"To solve our massive unemployment problems and put so many skilled and trained people back to work, would you push for a new form of (Depression-era Works Progress Administration, Civilian Conservation Corps) and (the 1973 Comprehensive Employment and Training Act) job opportunities?" asked Mike Evans of Anderson, Calif.
Self-described independent voter and Akron, Ohio, restaurant owner Scott Malensek, 43, had a more immediate concern and posted his question on the WEWS-TV website in Cleveland. He wants the candidates to say how they'll address the "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes and automatic spending cuts looming in January and avoid another Great Depression.
Pamela A. McIlhargey posted her question to Detroit TV station WXYZ's Facebook page: "What will you do to help the drought-stricken states (the wheat, corn and food belts of the U.S)...?"
Some prospective questions appeared aimed directly at each candidate's perceived vulnerabilities. Mary Keck, of Houston, wants to know why Romney bumped up his income tax rate from 9 percent to 14 percent by not claiming the entire value of his charitable deductions last year.
"Is this an example of the integrity we can expect?" Keck asked.
Darin Bergstrom, 43, of Redding, wants Obama reminded of his prediction that, if he didn't end the financial crisis in three years, his presidency would be "a one-term proposition."
"Why are you running again?" Bergstrom asked.
Sports management professor Robin L. Hardin in Knoxville, Tenn., 42, wants to test whether the candidates have feet of clay and "to see how tuned (in) they are with America and the middle class: How much for a loaf of bread? How much for a gallon of milk? ... What was the last movie that you saw?"
Walter Monk wrote on Tampa, Fla.'s WFTS-TV Facebook page that he wants both candidates asked if they're concerned about "the rising number of dogs shot by the police."
(Contact Scripps Howard News Service Washington correspondent Bartholomew Sullivan at sullivanbshns.com)