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Students call debate a tie

Liz O'Donnell | Friday, October 3, 2008

Students filled the Coleman-Morse Lounge on Thursday night to watch the much-anticipated Vice-Presidential Debate between Republican Governor Sarah Palin and Democratic Senator Joe Biden. The debate, held at the Washington University in St. Louis, was the first and only debate in which the two candidates were partaking.

The candidates discussed a number of topics, which ran the gamut from domestic issues to foreign policy.

The debate was divided into five-minute segments for each question, with ninety-second answers from both candidates, followed by two minutes of discussion. Biden answered the first question, after the order of response was determined by a coin toss.

Both vice-presidential candidates maintained their running mates’ platform, while criticizing the politics of their competitor. Neither candidate answered the second question of the evening, “How would you stop the polarization in Washington.” Instead, the two took turns discrediting the other’s political experience.

Biden, sticking to one of the Obama campaign’s basic strategies, tried to link McCain’s policies to those of President George W. Bush.

The candidates each pushed traditional party platforms on the economy, with Biden representing the Democrat ideology of raising taxes, specifically on the upper class, while Palin countered with pushing the Republican policy of cutting taxes.

Aside from the economic crisis, other domestic issues debated were the causes of climate change, energy, and the rights of same-sex couples.

“We do support that same sex marriage couples are guaranteed the same constitutional rights as heterosexual couples,” Biden said.

While Palin claimed to be very tolerant of same-sex couples, she said, “I will tell Americans straight up that I don’t support defining marriage as anything other than between one man and one woman.” Both parties agreed that they support certain rights for same-sex couples, but neither supports gay marriage.

After wrapping up domestic concerns, the debate moved on to foreign policy.

Each of the Vice Presidential candidates has a son involved in the war in Iraq, with Biden’s son in Iraq and Palin’s on his way. The two, however, differed in their opinions on the war.

Palin did not support an exit strategy. “We’re getting closer and closer to victory and it would be a travesty if we left Iraq.”

Biden supported an exit strategy provided that there was a specific timeline included with it.

Other issues discussed pertaining to foreign policy included the dangers of nuclear Iran and unstable Pakistan, the Bush administration’s Mid-East policy, interventionism in nuclear weaponry and the genocide in Darfur.

Members from Notre Dame’s Debate Club were on hand to analyze and comment on the two candidates performances.

They said that Palin was a genuine, relatable character and that she also solidified herself as a strong candidate on the ticket.

However, they said that overall Biden had stronger rebuttals and that Biden played Palin’s inexperience to his advantage.

Overall, the four indicated that Palin was the victor because all she needed to do to win was “stay in there”.

Glen Water, a member of NDVotes ’08 felt that the event was a success. “A lot of people showed up, it was a good debate. I think both candidates did well,” he said.

Gwen Ifill, a Senior Correspondent for PBS’s The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer was the moderator of the event. Ifill is currently authoring a book about the life of Barack Obama, with its expected release date to be the same day as the Presidential Inauguration in 2009. This lead to speculation that Ifill would be forced to favor Palin in an effort to demonstrate that she had no bias.

NDVotes ’08, the Center for Social Concerns, the Notre Dame Debate Program, and The William and Helen Kuhn Carey Chair in Modern Communication sponsored the event, which was also co-sponsored by the Washington Program.