PHOENIX — An Arizona State University student was stunned to see her face pop up onstage with five Democratic presidential candidates during Tuesday’s debate.
More than 15 million viewers watched as Anna Bettis, who is pursuing a master’s degree in sustainable solutions, asked the candidates a question related to climate change.
“As a young person I’m very concerned about climate change and how it will affect my future,” Bettis stated in a pre-recorded video that aired during the debate. “As a presidential candidate, what will you do to address climate change?”
Bettis said she was not aware that her question was going to air during the debate, but everyone knew it was her at a watch party in downtown Phoenix.
“I stood up and started jumping and screaming that that was me because you don’t expect it and it was on a huge screen with a bunch of other people watching so it was kind of crazy,” she said.
Candidate Martin O’Malley as well as CNN anchor Don Lemon referred to Bettis by name during the debate. She said she was most impressed with Bernie Sanders’ response.
“He was talking about what I thought were some systemic issues with campaign finance reform and I think it is going to be really hard to make any strides in changing our energy system without looking at where the money is coming from in politics,” she said.
Sanders, whom Bettis met at a recent Tucson appearance, was applauded by the crowd as he claimed the Republicans have a vested interest in keeping the status quo as it relates to clean energy and carbon emission regulations.
“Nothing is going to happen unless we are prepared to deal with campaign finance reform because the fossil fuel industry is funding the Republican party, which denies the reality of climate change and certainly is not prepared to go forward aggressively,” Sanders said.
As both a sustainability student and a millennial, Bettis explained climate change is on the forefront of her mind as she looks toward the future.
“We need to think about the young generation and how the choices of older generations are going to affect us,” she said.
Although it could be years until a solution to climate change is discovered and implemented, Bettis said she is happy to have been a part of the discussion on a national level.
“I’m kind of like holy cow. I can actually, as an American, decide that I want to get involved in the political process and have them answer my question.”
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