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In a couple of days, the trimmed herd of Democrat candidates for president will take the stage in the next debate.

The frontrunners are known. U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are chasing after former Vice President Joe Biden.

The rest of the field is fighting for scraps from the socialism table.

We are less than 14 months from the election, and while every impression matters, let's remember that in the early moments of the GOP debates three-plus-years ago, the talk was about Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz and whether Marco Rubio could muster a charge.

That's right. That trio led the campaign news cycles in a campaign that took more turns than the Cannonball at Lake Winnie.

We all know what happened. Donald Trump won because he was less unlikeable than Hillary Clinton.

some text Jay Greeson

Which brings us to Thursday. For a bunch of us who are interested in having options — and wanting to have to vote FOR a candidate rather than against a candidate — this starts the culling phase.

Think of it this way: If Bush, Cruz and Rubio were some versions of Biden, Sanders and Warren, then who is the Democrats' version of Trump?

That's impossible to answer at this point. But late last week ABC — the network hosting the debate — asked viewers what questions they want asked.

Interesting, right? And, according to the online answers, somewhat comical.

From the appropriate:

* "Ask what specific steps they will take to make sure lawmakers represent the people and not corporate interests."

* "We want you to #AskAboutDemocracy. Lobbyists write our laws, politicians are bought, and public policy is dictated by big donors and special interests. Ask the candidates what steps they will take to #EndCorruption in government."

* "None of the important issues you can ask about will matter if our next set of elected officials fails to fix our democracy first."

From the humorous:

* "What is your plan to fix stupid and how much will it cost?"

And from the predictable:

* "It's nice that you're pretending to take suggestions, but here's what will actually happen: You'll type up GOP talking points and pretend they are neutral questions, so that you seem "fair" and "balanced."

Here's a suggestion from a voter who goes into 2020 with eyes — and ballot — wide open:

Do not ask a single question about Donald Trump.

Let these candidates tell voters about their ideas, their visions and their strategies to make America better rather than the ways they think Trump has made it worse.

Give me answers Thursday night rather than problems.

We get it. Democrats hate Trump. But if any of the folks on the stage wants to make a statement, make it about your stances and solutions.

And let the questions try to bring those answers out.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.

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