On Wednesday October 5, the first of three Presidential debates between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney was held. Prior to the viewing of the debate, the university staged its own debate between Professor Mark Weinstock of the Economics department and Dr. Satish Kolluri, chair of the Communication Studies department.
Prof. Weinstock, a supporter of Romney, presented many arguments stating why President Obama’s policies are bad for business and the economy. He said that due to President Obama’s current policies, there is “massive uncertainty in the future,” in regards to tax rates, employment and the economy as a whole.
Dr. Kolluri, an Obama supporter, also discussed the economy, criticizing so-called “trickle-down economics,” a phrase which came up often during the actual Presidential debate, which has been said to be similar to Gov. Romney’s policies. Dr. Kolluri also focused on social issues such as health care and the issue of contraception, stating, “Who are men to legislate over women’s bodies?”
He acknowledged that to some ideological voters, their vote would rely on the candidates’ stance on one issue, such as that of contraception.
The debate between the professors, which relied on questions from students after an initial platform speech on the part of both professors, touched on a wide range of topics from the economy, education, health care, social reform, and the need for voter participation.
Immediately following the professorial debate, students and professors turned their attention to the Presidential Debate.
The debate, which focused on the economy, taxes, health care reform, and the role of the government, presented the candidates in a slightly different light than we have seen on the campaign trail.
Pres. Obama, who was known for his ability to give speeches, was not as strong as was expected, failing to present overly strong arguments to back up his policies or highlight his accomplishments. Instead, the President tried to draw attention to Gov. Romney’s lack of detail in regards to his proposed health care plan, intended to replace Obama’s own health care program, nicknamed “Obamacare,” as well as his deficit reduction plan.
Gov. Romney was on the offensive the majority of the night, questioning Pres. Obama’s $716 billion cut to Medicare as well as his inability to create jobs.
While both candidates made broad claims regarding the other’s policy, no knockout punches were thrown.
After the debate a few students and professors stayed behind to discuss their initial reactions to the debate. The majority agreed that Romney presented himself as a stronger candidate in the debate, while Obama seemed hesitant and unsure.
The question arose of the possible effects that Gov. Romney’s strong performance could have in the polls.
As we have seen in the past, Presidential debates do not usually have a large impact on the polls. According to The Wall Street Journal, less than five percent of undecided voters are still undecided by the time candidates participate in debates, but the possibility is still there. Romney may have been able to swing undecided voters in his direction, but with two more Presidential and one Vice Presidential debate to come, it is too soon to tell.
Additional student and professor debates have been planned before each of the remaining debates between the candidates. The next debate will be between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan on Thursday October 11.