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Students engage in mock debate

Carolyn Hutyra | Thursday, October 25, 2012

Which presidential candidate deserves your vote in 2012?

Senior Mickey Gardella from the College Republicans and senior Adam Newman from the College Democrats addressed this question in a mock presidential debate Wednesday night. Students and faculty gathered in McKenna Hall for the hour-and-a-half event that covered the main issues of this year’s presidential election, followed by a mock election.

The questions were created and presented by the moderator of the debate, senior Clara Ritger, editor-in-chief of Scholastic. Gardella and Newman received the questions a week in advance.

Ritger said the major talking points were based on her close following of the election since the summer.

“I was a state politics reporter in Pennsylvania over the summer,” she said. “I went to some Romney and Obama events so I had that whole experience.”

She said she gathered information from watching all of the presidential and vice-presidential debates, as well as reading the newspaper every day. The questions were designed to give students the opportunity to see where each candidate stands on the most important issues.

“I tried to focus on what the talk on campus was from students, what students were really interested in or what issues were going to sway their vote one way or the other,” she said.

The six major segment topics of the debate were jobs, U.S. debt, healthcare, religion, foreign policy and relation to college students.

Gardella opened the first question section of the debate by bringing up the creation of more jobs. He spoke of the Dodd-Frank bill, Obamacare, Romney’s proposed 20 percent tax cut across the board and the institution of freedom in the American economy.

“We should free the private sector to grow the economy,” he said.

When it came to the issue of the environment, Newman focused on the need to invest in the energy of tomorrow.

“We’re producing more fossil fuels than ever before,” he said.

This problem can be changed by investment in other energy forms such as solar and wind power, he said.

When the conversation shifted to the growing deficit, Newman argued that Obama is better equipped to handle the problem.

“Obama understands our debt is unsustainable,” Newman said.

He also said Romney’s plan to increase defense spending by $2 million does not help the issue.

But Gardella said Obama’s term as president contributed to the deficit.

“All of([Obama’s) presidency he had $1 trillion or higher in deficits,” Gardella saie.

The debate also included a number of other topics that included student tuition mortgages, healthcare lawsoand Catholic Social Teaching in governmental policy.

In closing, Newman reiterated Obama’spfour-step plan. In terms of encouraging students to vote for the democratic candidate, he cited student loan reform, the doubling of Federal Pell Grant, and the ability of students to stay on their parents’ insurance plan until the age of 26 as reasons to cast a ballot for Obama.

Gardella ended with a reflection on the last four years of Obama’s presidency. He saidsthese years are characterized by partisanship and division, low confidence in the econom, and years of trillion-dollar deficits.

“Romney will get people back to work,” he said.

Newman said he and Gardella were equally matched.

“I think( Gardell ] was a strong debater … but even if it wasn’t me([debatin ], even if it was someone less prepared, the divisions in the beliefs still speak for themselves,” Newman said.  

Junior Matthew Jewell said the Democratic representative was more eloquent and presented his argument better, but the Republican representative made more compelling arguments in regards to the functioning of the economy.

“While I agree with the policies of. Romney that the Republican representative put forward, I believe that from an objective standpoint the

Democratic representative won the debate,” Jewell said.

The debate was followed by a mock election, and the results of that will be released Nov. 1.