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Candidates rumble over economy, Libya

Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 01:10

Presidential debate

David Cohen

The presidential candidates circled one another, delivering political jab after political jab, making the second presidential debate a fight-night of an event when compared to the first one.

Amidst the important issues discussed, the debate was characterized by a back-and-forth yet unseen in the 2012 Presidential Campaign. The jabs were promoted by the format used in Hempstead, N.Y., allowing both President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney to move about the space provided, and turn and face one another.

The debate opened with a question from 20-year-old Jeremy Epstein, a college student, who asked what the two candidates would do to help him land a job upon graduation. Romney said one of his goals as president would be to help young people — who have been struggling over the last four years — find jobs.

“The key thing is to make sure you can get a job when you get out of school,” Romney said. “And what’s happened over the last four years has been very, very hard for America’s young people.”

Obama said creating jobs for all Americans are one of many things he can do to ensure those like Epstein have a bright future.

“What I want to do, is build on the five million jobs that we’ve created over the last 30 months in the private sector alone,” Obama said. “And there are a bunch of things we can do to make sure your future is bright.”

From there, the debate spanned issues ranging from increasing gas prices, the economy, immigration, gun control and even the recent attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Libya.

The issues and questions asked by undecided voters in the audience gave a plethora of opportunities for the two candidates to turn and attack one another, whether it was Romney criticizing Obama’s administration or Obama questioning Romney’s proposed policies.

“He’s great as a speaker and describing his plans and his vision,” Romney said in reference to Obama. “[The record] shows he just hasn’t been able to cut the deficit, to put in place reforms for Medicare and Social Security to preserve them, to get us the rising incomes we need.”

Obama — such as others have done — questioned Romney on his plans to fix the economy. He referred to Romney’s responses during the last debate about cutting funding to “Big Bird and Planned Parenthood,” and included that Romney has yet to present a solid plan.

“If somebody came to you Governor, with a plan that said, ‘Here, I want to spend $7 or $8 trillion, and then we’re going to pay for it, be we can’t tell you until maybe after the election how we’re going to do it,’ you wouldn’t take such a sketchy deal, and neither should you — the American people — because the math doesn’t add up,” Obama said.

The debate reached an emotional apex when audience member Kerry Ladka brought the focus on the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya, asking who was it that denied security that had been requested. It was here that Romney, attempting to inflict damage on his opponent, accused the President of dismissing the attack as not being a terrorist attack as he travelled to different charity functions. Obama responded out of personal offense.

“The suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, Governor, is offensive,” Obama said. “That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president, that’s not what I do as Commander-in-Chief.”

Students had the opportunity to watch the debate as the Wiley Lecture Series held another viewing party in Rev’s Diner. Sarah Armstrong, senior political science major and chair of Wiley, said it is one of the organization’s goals to make an event like this accessible to students because of the importance of their involvement.

“It’s up to our generation, and the students that are going through this election right now have the potential to either become very involved and knowledgeable,” Armstrong said. “Or they can continue going with that path of being the silent majority and not playing a crucial role in American politics.”

Students who watched the debate, such as freshman political science major Reid Geissen, said there was a noticeable change in Obama’s performance in response to a prepared Romney.

“Romney stayed on point with the same sharp attacks that he brought against Obama in the last debate,” Geissen said. “The only difference was that Obama did not take those attacks lying down as much.”

Joe Rodriguez, sophomore political science major, said that the winner of the debate — despite Obama’s improved performance — was Romney.

“I definitely think Obama was a better debater this time around,” Rodriguez said. “I would say Mitt Romney won the debate because if you look at his answers — though he interrupted a couple times — he knows what he is talking about.”

 

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