The candidates juggled some tough issues during their debate at Cunniff Elementary School on Wednesday and traded jabs ... with a powder puff. They were clowns from Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus, after all.
The Watertown school hosted the second event in the Boss Clown Voting-Matters Debate Series, which the circus puts on in cities where it is performing during the presidential election season. The event was also streamed over the internet to schools around the country.
The Cunniff is the only school in the Boston area to host the event, and is one of four nationally that will be part of the series, said TD Garden spokeswoman Courtney Mercier. The Garden had links to to the school through John Vitti, a parent who oversees the school newspaper, Mercier said.
The big decision the students had to make was who should be elected Boss Clown - the head funny guy for Ringling Bros.
Facing off were Todd Voting of the Yesterjester Party, who is in favor of keeping the traditional clown look with goofy hair, lots of make up and baggy and colorful clothing; and Mike Matters from the Nouveaubuffo Party, who wants to make some changes in clowns' garb. He favors minimal makeup, a natural hair style and more ordinary clothing, like jeans and a T-shirt.
Other differences in the candidates' stances - Voting likes to be hit with real cream pies (so he can have a little snack) and a VW Beetle for his clown car, while Matters prefers shaving cream pies and the Smart Car.
The children's favorite section of the debate was when the candidates got a chance to draw a picture of what their ideal clown would look like. In the meantime, however, debate commentator Chet Chatterly, could say "Powder Puff" and the first one to grab the giant puff could bash the other in the face.
After the debate, students got to cast their vote for their favorite clown.
During a very unscientific exit poll, the race is dead even. Fourth-grader Giulia Salvucci said she liked Todd Voting best.
"I kind of like his look, how he puts on all the make up," Salvucci said.
Mario Greco, also in fourth grade, preferred Mike Matters, and he said he enjoyed the debate.
"My favorite part was when they did the faces and hit each other with the powder puffs," Greco said.
The debate can be seen on www.ringling.com/BossClown. The circus performs at the TD Garden in Boston from Oct. 10-14.