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Davenport debaters scold bad behavior from presidential candidates

Nasty attacks characterize the 2016 presidential campaign. “When you say crazy zealot, are you talking about you?” questioned Donald Trump to Sen. T...

Nasty attacks characterize the 2016 presidential campaign.

"When you say crazy zealot, are you talking about you?" questioned Donald Trump to Sen. Ted Cruz during a recent debate.

It's a war of words that's hardly presidential.

"Maybe to make sure his pants weren't wet," said Sen. Marco Rubio about Trump's request for a full-length mirror.

It's quite a different scene at Davenport Assumption High School on Thursday.

Student debaters are preparing for a state competition at the University of Iowa.

"You don't want to use profanity," cautioned junior Luke Castro, 17.  "You don't want to directly attack the other person because the issue is the issue."

"It's definitely not attacking people," added sophomore Karly Britt, 15.  "I just don't think that's fair."

While that language is bad enough in a presidential campaign, it also violates many anti-bullying policies in schools.

"I think it's totally counterproductive to see future presidents talking bad about each other when we're told not to talk bad about each other," she continued.

But as this campaign becomes more outrageous, it seems to transform the vulgarity of reality television into political debates.

Luke and Karly's debate coach is Steve Grubbs.

The longtime political consultant just wrapped up a run as Iowa director for Sen. Rand Paul's presidential bid.

Grubbs says all that conflict and strife keeps building a television audience.

It's a vast departure from the Kennedy-Reagan eras that he grew up admiring.

"We've seen record numbers of viewers," he said.  "It seems to really follow that model.  If that's a permanent shift, I think that's unfortunate."

Still, the bitter barrage continues on the campaign trail.

As the Assumption students load up for their competition, actions by current candidates don't impress them.

"I look at politics now as more of an argument about a person or vulgar language," Castro concluded.  "It's just kind of going down the drain."

The next generation of voters is watching closely.