[media-credit name="Tiara Winata" align="alignleft" width="555"][/media-credit]A sizeable group of politically interested students gathered near the Campanile on Wednesday for the first Tech presidential Debate Watch Party for the 2012 election.
The debate party served as a window into the world of politics for many Tech students. Guest speakers State Senator Jason Carter, representing the 42nd Senate district, and Tech graduate and State Representative Buzz Brockway, representing the 101st House district, spoke on the importance of election issues, voting and getting involved.
Volunteer at the event helped students register to vote and obtain absentee ballots. While the special guest appearances, voting registration services and pre-debate refreshments drew people in, students at the Debate Watch Party stayed for the main attraction to see the different policy platforms that could determine the outcome of the election.
Some students focused on the economy as the most vital issue in the upcoming election, but foreign policy issues figured in the reasoning of others.
“We need to start looking at our debt. If we don’t, it won’t matter how the economy does because some other country will own us,” said Andrew Swartz, a first-year AE major.
As a result, some students feel that crucial topics that were at the top of the list of concerns in the campaigns of previous years have been overshadowed during this election season due to increasing debate over which economic policy to rely on.
“Employment and the economy are important. Immigration used to be a major [controversial]issue, but it’s been kind of tabled for the time being because the economy is so bad,” said Michael Samo, a first-year AE major.
People asking the question of what to do about long-running problems faced by struggling businesses and industries are looking for solutions on how to handle a potential federal bailout of U.S. automakers.
“I am by no means a socialist. If a company wants to follow bad practices let them die. But when a city [like Detroit] in the case of auto bailouts depends on a company, you need to step in and save it,” said Chris Underwood, a first-year CE major.
On the international front, the war remains an issue of great importance to many people.
“I think we should focus on getting out of the Middle East,” Lorinna Slater, a first-year CMPE major.
The presence and number of troops stationed in Iraq will be largely determined by the election results in November.
Authority over foreign relations will be a responsibility of the next president.
“The president can’t exactly force Congress to pass bills. But he does have a lot more power in foreign policy,” said Steven Su, a first-year BME major.
When asked specifically about what it would take for Romney or Obama to win the debate, some students indicated that Romney in particular would have to perform well in order to carry the debate.
“Obama has the upper hand in showmanship. Romney really needs to hone in on every point if he wants to win,” Swartz said.
Election debates in the coming weeks are scheduled to be broadcast live in the Student Center Theater.
For the crucial first debate, staying focused on the issues at hand is a factor that many people will be paying attention to.
“Romney needs to be careful with his words. If he sticks to the points then he has a much better chance. Obama needs to stay on topic, since sometimes he doesn’t really answer questions,” Samo said.