Presidential Hopefuls Field Questions on YouTube Newly minted college graduate James Kotecki is doing his part to bridge the gap between presidential candidates and young voters, one YouTube video at a time. Kotecki spoke with Steve Inskeep.
NPR logo

Presidential Hopefuls Field Questions on YouTube

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Presidential Hopefuls Field Questions on YouTube

Presidential Hopefuls Field Questions on YouTube

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


First, presidential candidate Bill Clinton played his saxophone on a late night talk show. Then John McCain announced his intention to run on another late night talk show. Now, some presidential candidates have reached a new level in getting casual and personal with voters.

Mr. JAMES KOTECKI (YouTube Blogger): Congressman Ron Paul, thank you so much for joining me...

Representative RON PAUL (Republican, Texas): Thank you, good to be with you.

Mr. KOTECKI: my dorm room. And first, I just want to say that this is the first presidential candidate - or first interview ever to be conducted with a presidential candidate from a college dorm room.

INSKEEP: The man you just heard speaking is James Kotecki. He has just graduated from Georgetown University, and he has been interviewing presidential candidates and posting those interviews on YouTube. Welcome to the program once again.

Mr. KOTECKI: Great to be here, Steve.

INSKEEP: You've talked to Ron Paul. You've talked to Dennis Kucinich. You've talked to - who else?

Mr. KOTECKI: Mike Huckabee and Mike Gravel. After the Ron Paul interview happened, it was easier to get the other candidates to agree, and I...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. KOTECKI: ...I give Ron Paul a lot of credit for being the first guy to say, let's do an interview in a college dorm room.

INSKEEP: And then you have the cred to go after some of the other candidates.

Mr. KOTECKI: And then I have the cred. Actually, Mike Gravel's campaign then contacted me after the Ron Paul interview.

INSKEEP: I enjoyed listening to one of the questions that you put to the democratic candidate, Dennis Kucinich. Let's listen.

Mr. KOTECKI: Your opposition to the Iraq war is pretty well founded consistently. But I'm wondering, in your opinion, when is it a good idea to go to war, or is it ever a good idea to go to war? What circumstances?

Representative DENNIS KUCINICH (Democrat, Ohio; Presidential Candidate): Well, every nation has a right to self-defense. I mean, that's - the U.N. charter article 51 gives - says that every nation has an inherent right to self-defense.

INSKEEP: Why put that particular question to that man?

Mr. KOTECKI: Well, Dennis Kucinich has based a lot of his campaign on being against the war in Iraq. And so, I was interested in talking not just about his position on Iraq - which everyone asked him about, and everyone asks every candidate about it all the time - but about how he would take that position and as president apply it to other conflicts or things that might come up.

INSKEEP: I want to ask about image because presidential candidates are obviously always concerned about it. It is hard for me to imagine very many candidates allowing their guy to be portrayed the way that Dennis Kucinich was in this video because you were outdoors and Dennis Kucinich is in what looks like this huge chair and he looks like a tiny, tiny person.

Mr. KOTECKI: Well, I would have definitely apologized to Dennis Kucinich. I certainly didn't mean to portray him that way. I'm an amateur when it comes to these things, and that's actually a lot of the appeal to the videos is that I'm just a guy - I'm a regular guy with a very cheap camera who's able to get these interviews.

INSKEEP: Do you think these presidential candidates believe that they're reaching young people through you?

Mr. KOTECKI: Yes, absolutely. I think that people who watch YouTube and online video certainly skew that way. And I think that those people are very cynical about the kind of glossy nature of politics now that candidates can maybe cut through if they're going to people in a casual, obviously, very - somewhat amateurish way that I'm doing it.

INSKEEP: Now, I don't want to blow the surprise, but if you get a chance to talk with Hillary Clinton or John McCain, what's something you really want to know?

Mr. KOTECKI: Well, I'd like to talk about more foreign policy issues than just the war in Iraq. We've got issues in Asia, African poverty is a big issue, Latin America, and these are things that just kind of get brushed under the table because if there's going to be a foreign policy section of any interview, it's almost inevitably devoted entirely to the Iraq war.

INSKEEP: Has there been any candidates so far that you've had to stop them and say, look, you're just giving me a line?

Mr. KOTECKI: No, I haven't. Because the candidates that I've been interviewing I think are not doing well enough in the polls, maybe that they feel like they - they don't have to give lines, but the lines that they give are the things that they genuinely believe. And also, at this point, I'm not necessarily sure that I have the journalistic credibility to be able to tell them that they're just giving me something bogus. Not to their faces, at least.

INSKEEP: Not to their faces, at least.

Mr. KOTECKI: And so far, I haven't had that happen.

INSKEEP: Well James Kotecki, thanks very much for coming by.

Mr. KOTECKI: My pleasure.

INSKEEP: He's a political blogger, and you can find links to his interviews with presidential candidates at

And here's the latest we know in a story we're following this morning out of London, where today, police disabled an apparent car bomb. It was discovered in a car parked in the heart of the city, in the theater district. It happened in the same week that Britain's new prime minister, Gordon Brown, took office.

Prime Minister GORDON BROWN (Great Britian): The first duty of a government is the security of the people. And as the police and security services have said on so many occasions, we face a serious and continued security threat to our country.

INSKEEP: Police say this car was filled was gas containers and nails, and that if it exploded, it would have caused significant loss of life. We'll bring you more as we learn more.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.