Debate question heard around the world

By Monte Miller, Record Staff Writer
Posted 11/7/19

The days after Sunday’s presidential debate in St. Louis have been a whirlwind for Karl Becker, who has become a national sensation after asking the candidates to say one positive thing they …

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Debate question heard around the world


The days after Sunday’s presidential debate in St. Louis have been a whirlwind for Karl Becker, who has become a national sensation after asking the candidates to say one positive thing they respect about each other.“I thought it was a simple question,” Becker said. “I didn’t think it was that big of a deal until several Washington University students wanted to take selfies with me after the debate ended.”In the past 48 hours, Becker said he has done about 20 different interviews with radio, television and print outlets from St. Louis and international networks, including CNN, MSNBC, Canadian Broadcasting Company, and even a news company from Great Britain.“I’ve also Skyped and Facetimed with the entertainment show TMZ,” Becker said. “It’s been really exciting and fun.”When asked about the attention his question has drawn and his 15 minutes of fame, Becker said it will be even shorter than that.“Real life hits you in the face real quick,” he said. “I came home Monday night to go to my son’s JV football game at Borgia and ended up spending the evening at the emergency room with him.”SelectionBecker explained his adventure began weeks ago, basically because he is a guy who answers his cellphone.“The Gallup organization has called me several times over the years to ask me poll questions,” he said. “I guess I fit a certain demographic of an undecided voter. During a subsequent call, they extended the invitation to ask a question at the debate.”Becker said he originally wrote two questions and after review by CNN producers one was thrown out.“After we arrived we were sequestered for about 14 hours before the debate,” Becker said. “We had to leave our cellphones and everything in a Secret Service secured parking lot.”Becker said he was approached by one of the producers about his question and was asked to rehearse it out loud several times.“I noticed she pulled me further away from the crowd than the other people she had been talking to,” Becker said. “By about 5 or 6 p.m., I felt confident my question was going to be asked. I thought it might be the first question of the debate.”Instead, Becker’s was the last and seemed to break the acrimony in the room that had built between Clinton and Trump.“I really had no concept of time during the debate,” Becker said. “Apparently the debate had run over time, but Anderson Cooper was able to squeeze my question in at the last minute.”AnswerBecker admits the answer he received from the candidates was not satisfying and nothing from the debate really swayed his vote toward Clinton or Trump.“I really wasn’t getting anything of substance,” Becker said. “They were just hitting their talking points. I think my question took them off guard and it wasn’t something their advisers could have prepared them for. They did the best they could.”Becker added he did believe the answers given by the candidates, were how they genuinely feel about each other.After the ShowWhen the debate ended, Becker was able to meet both candidates personally and said they are different in an intimate setting than most voters will see just on television.“They were both very nice and personable,” Becker said. “They both had a different persona privately. I also got to meet President Bill and Chelsea Clinton and all of Trump’s family. It was nice to get to meet them, talk a little and enjoy the moment.”Becker said since their cellphones were locked in their cars, they were handed disposable 35mm cameras on the stage to take pictures after the debate.“I’m pretty sure there is a photo of me shaking hands with Donald Trump,” Becker said. “Unfortunately, it won’t fit in the USB port on my computer so I’ll have to wait until I get them developed to see it.”Historic In the midst of the media whirlwind and national attention, Becker says he is honored by the chance to be a part of the debate.“It’s really a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said. “I stressed this to my kids 10 months ago that this election will be looked at as one of the most historic of all time and it is very important. My daughter is 18 and this is the first election she will be voting in. We are choosing the person who will be in charge of our country for the next four or even eight years. It will also be the first that will either elect the first woman president or first non-political person.”He added he hopes his question will help stir voters and perhaps it will help other undecided voters to make their choice, but he’s not quite ready yet.“I’m definitely going to be watching the next debate,” Becker said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what will play out in the next four weeks.”WashingtonBecker, who grew up in Chicago, moved to the St. Louis area during his junior year and graduated from Lafayette High School. He has lived in Washington twice, from 2007 to 2010, and again since 2014.His son Shane attends St. Francis Borgia Regional High School and his daughter Darcy is a student at East Central College.Becker works at Platinum Driveline, a company specializing in aftermarket automotive parts, in Fenton.Debate