Before these politicians put their debate skills on display for a national audience, many of them got their start in a high school or college debate team, just like the one at the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers in Boston.
The Boston Debate League started about six years ago and has since grown to more than 20 schools in the district. Most of these students are academic standouts, while others, such as 10th grader Sandra Joseph, are just looking to improve their language skills.
"I love to feel like I have a voice," she said.
"Debate is one of the rare opportunities where the adults have to sit down and listen for an hour and a half and students get to advocate and argue for themselves," Brett Flater said.
Here's how it works: students are divided into pairs, with one side arguing for a position and the other against. The topic for most debates are not anything you'll likely be hearing around the dinner table any time soon. To make their cases, students are given research packets and must use the material inside to support their positions.
Then there's cross examination, followed by rebuttal speeches. A volunteer judge is ultimately tasked with picking the winning team.
But win or lose, students say being able to stand up in front of an audience of their peers with strong arguments is the ultimate victory.
"Every month that I go I always see me improving and I actually win some trophies and it makes me feel better," Sandra said.
And who knows - perhaps one of these students will also be standing in front of a national audience one day.