George W. Bush and John Kerry may have the Republican and Democratic nominations sewn up, but neither should take the votes of young people for granted. So says political analyst Sean ''P. Diddy'' Combs. The hip-hop mogul/fashion designer/marathon runner/Broadway star is adding a new line to his résumé: presidential debate host. Combs told the New York Post he plans to host a town hall-style debate on MTV this summer called ''Project Change,'' in which the candidates would submit to questions from ordinary citizens on topics like education and health care. ''I'm going to make Kerry and Bush squirm,'' he told The Post. ''The people who usually ask the candidates questions are screened, and I'm going to use real people off the streets to get their questions out there.''
Combs said he wants to get minorities and young people to register to vote in record numbers. He said he plans to get a ''multicultural rat pack'' of celebrities, as well as ordinary people from such places as Harlem, Brooklyn, and Detroit, to prepare questions for the candidates. ''I'm asking them to hold their vote hostage until these candidates answer questions in real terms that people can understand,'' he said.
But will the candidates answer Diddy's call? ''It sounds like a great idea,'' Kerry campaign spokesman Mark Kornblau told the Post. ''John would be happy to debate George Bush anytime, and he'd take any opportunity to talk directly to the people.'' Bush campaign spokesman Scott Stansel said that the president would also look forward to participating in a ''robust debate.'' If Combs can pull it off, this would be the first presidential debate this year to which both candidates have signed on. Let's just hope he makes sure no one asks either candidate the ''boxers or briefs?'' question.