One year out from the 2024 election for president, ABC's "Good Morning America" debated the election outlook featuring the youngest Republican Party chair opposite the youngest Democratic Party chair.
The Republican was Alabama's John Wahl, 37, of Athens. The Democrat was Anderson Clayton, 26, of Roxboro, North Carolina.
The young vote will be hotly contested between the parties and candidates in the upcoming presidential election, with 21% of voters expected to be under the age of 25.
In the Tuesday broadcast, both state chairs were asked what issue is most important to young voters.
Clayton led off by saying that "campus violence and the mental health crises" were top on the minds of young voters. She added affordable housing as an afterthought. Later, she listed "a livable minimum wage" and "ability to buy a house."
Wahl said that the economy was key, specifying "the difficulty in making ends meet." He added foreign policy, specifically defense.
Republican Wahl called abortion "a tragedy" and said life is sacred, while Democrat Anderson said it was the woman's choice.
The hosts asked both chairs about the issue of President Joe Biden's age. He is 81 and would be 86 if he served another five years.
Democrat Anderson did not think it was an issue that would hurt Biden. Republican Wahl disagreed.
This was not the first time for these two to square off. National Public Radio did a two-part show featuring these two in September 2023.
This is Wahl's second term as state party chair, and, after his party flipped formerly Democrat office in the 2022 midterms, he wants more in 2024. The butterfly farmer hopes to establish Alabama as a leader in the national Republican Party.
Wahl was able to air the point of his being a butterfly farmer, a most unusual occupation for a political party chair.
Alabama is a reliably red state, but that doesn't mean Wahl is resting on his laurels and ignoring the work ahead.
"I think it's easy to overlook Alabama across the board. We're a smaller state population-wise. We're in the Deep South, and there's a little bit of a stereotype about Alabama, that it is kind of a backward Southern state," Wahl said.
Wahl has his eyes on voters in the state's "Black Belt" region, southern Alabama election districts with larger black voting populations, who are represented by Democrats locally but who voted for former President Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020.
Anderson Clayton is a graduate of Western North Carolina's Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. with a degree in journalism and political science. She works as a broadband analyst for Rural Innovation Strategies. She worked in Democratic campaigns in 2020 and 2022.
"I want people to see opportunity everywhere, and it shouldn't matter your ZIP code or where you're from. You should be able to experience and live in your community, but also have so many opportunities," Clayton said. "I think it's the message of the Democratic Party nationwide. I just don't think we've figured out a way to really tell that message yet," Clayton told National Public Radio.
Jim Zeigler is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor.
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