On Thursday, October 16th, the day after the third and final presidential debate, the Student Center hosted a pseudo-debate between representatives from the College Republicans and College Democrats. Kevin Wiley—a nth-year CHBE major and chair of the event’s sponsor, the Ideas and Issues Committee of the Student Center Programs Council—moderated the debate. “We had originally planned to have a more experienced moderator, someone who had moderated presidential-style debates before, but they had to cancel at the last minute,” Wiley said. The representatives, David Smith for the College Republicans and Griffin Wasdin for the College Democrats, described and defended their candidate’s positions.
Unlike each of the presidential debates, this debate didn’t focus on any one issue, but instead covered all aspects of the candidates’ policies. Aside from this, however, the format of the debate was incredibly similar to the actual presidential debates. Before the debate began, the debaters had a chance to give a two minute opening statement. One debater was then given two minutes to answer each question, and his opponent was allowed a one minute rebuttal. At the end, both debaters were given the chance to make a two-minute closing statement.
A grand total of nine questions were asked in the debate, and a variety of the questions’ content reflected the all-encompassing nature of the debate. The debate kicked off with a question about the candidates’ energy policies, where Smith advocated McCain’s pro-domestic drilling stance and Wasdin advocated moving on to new technologies. “We can’t solve the problems of the future with the technologies of the past,” Wasdin said in response to Smith’s claim that, “[we] cannot get off oil in ten years.”
Next on the agenda was what the debaters thought were the key differences between Republican and Democratic values. Wasdin advocated more spending in America as opposed to spending more on wars abroad and attacked the idea of trickle-down economics. “We need to strengthen the middle class, not just hope someone higher up will help them,” he said. Smith responded by saying that Democrats spent too much and by pointing out that all the money they spend comes from the American taxpayer.
The next topic was one of particular importance to Tech students: what the candidates’ plans were to combat the rising costs of tuition. Smith advocated making the application process more efficient in order to cut down on costs, while Wasdin advocated Obama’s $4,000 tax credit for students who did over 100 hours of community service.
The next topic, healthcare, sported few surprises, with Wasdin advocating Obama’s universal healthcare plan, while Smith claimed that McCain’s plan—a $5000 tax credit—was, in reality, the more radical of the two plans.
On foreign policy, the war in Iraq took center stage, with Smith stating that its recent absence in the media is due to the fact that the United States are winning. Wasdin disagreed, and supported Obama’s plan to remove 1-2 brigades per month from Iraq. He also stressed the importance of “re-engaging countries that Bush has ignored.”
The current economic crisis and the candidates’ tax plans were next on the list. Wasdin was up first and described Obama’s plan to jump-start the economy with $50 billion, invest $150 billion in energy and environmental research to create new jobs, eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses and reform minimum wage. Smith defended the recent buyout and pointed to McCain’s suspension of his campaign in order to work on the bill as proof of his dedication to economic reform.
He also mirrored McCain’s tactic in the last debate by mentioning the now famous Joe the Plumber in his attack on Obama’s tax plan, claiming that small businesses would experience tax increases under Obama’s plan. Wasdin also mirrored his candidate in his rebuttal, stating that over 95% of small businesses make under $250,000 a year and thus would actually receive tax cuts.
Wasdin then explained his views of the next topic, the candidates’ stances on civil rights, and he described how Obama supports legislation that supports equal opportunity employment and how Obama supports same-sex civil unions. Smith, instead, chose to focus on the topic of education reform and advocated McCain’s plan to establish a school-voucher system.
The debate wrapped up where it began: where the candidates stood on energy and environmental reform, and what they planned to do about global warming. Smith pointed again to McCain’s plans for domestic drilling and pointed out that it would allow stricter limitations to be placed on drilling, thus making the entire process more eco-friendly. Wasdin advocated more plug-in hybrids, and described Obama’s $7000 tax credit for purchasers of more advanced vehicles.
Both debaters took the opportunity to make a closing statement. “Obama’s the kind of person that looks for real results and asks Americans to take part in the results,” Wasdin said.
“Look at what McCain does…John McCain has a long history of putting country first. For his entire career, John McCain has always put his country before himself,” Smith said.