ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
Unidentified Man #2: And a question for Barack Obama, do you want to come over and play guitar here?
(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO)
SIEGEL: Covering the debate in Charleston, South Carolina for us tonight is NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson who joins us now. And, Mara, explain to us how this works?
MARA LIASSON: Ten of the people who submitted questions were actually invited to come and sit in the audience. And they are the only ones who were allowed to have video cameras in the audience. But because of security concerns, they will not be able to turn their cameras on until after the debate is over.
SIEGEL: Well, how much does this depart from previous debates?
LIASSON: Hillary Clinton had a song contest and did "The Sopranos" spoof video on YouTube. And you saw the viral quality of shared video, again, with that clip of John Edwards fixing his hair and with the soundtrack of "I Feel Pretty" under him and that's probably been viewed about a million times.
SIEGEL: But YouTube or no YouTube, this is hardly the first time that people have a chance to see a Democratic debate. Are the Democrats risking debate fatigue setting in here with the audience?
LIASSON: For someone like John Edwards, a second tier candidate trying to break through against the big two candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, he has the biggest incentive to want to limit the number of debates and the participation. But this is the only way that I think voters who don't live in New Hampshire, South Carolina or Iowa get to see all the candidates.
SIEGEL: That's NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Thank you, Mara.
LIASSON: Thank you, Robert.
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