Jeremy Epstein suspected his question might be the first asked at Tuesday night's presidential debate, but the importance of the moment didn't sink in, he said, until moderator Candy Crowley told the audience she was starting with "a first-time voter."
"Two of the most powerful people in the world are standing five feet away from you," Epstein, 20, of North Woodmere, recalled during an interview Wednesday. So he reassured himself, "Here we go, get up, and say it."
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The Adelphi University junior -- the youngest person asking questions of President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Gov. Mitt Romney -- said he realized he wasn't just representing himself. "I'm representing a whole other group of people my age, people who are facing the exact same problems, who are worried if they're going to be able to move out of their parent's house and support themselves sufficiently," Epstein said.
Epstein, who asked the candidates to reassure him and his parents that employment prospects would improve when he graduated, said he thought Romney provided the best answer, citing his experience in the private sector.
But Epstein said he was put off by answers and interruptions from Romney later in the debate and said he found the president more "personable."
Nonetheless, Epstein said, he remains firmly undecided.
After the debate, Epstein met with both candidates. He pressed Romney about what appeared to be the promise of a job offered during the debate.
"I hope you're going to give me that job in two years," Epstein said he told Romney, who responded with "OK."
Epstein said he told Obama, "You also did a good job, but I don't think your Chicago Bulls are going to be that good this year." And he challenged the president to a game of pickup basketball, "If I stand by your left hand, can I beat you one-on-one?"
"No," he said the president told him. "I've got too many veteran moves for you."
Overall, participating in the second presidential debate was "a really good experience," Epstein said. "I got to ask the president and the governor questions."