Students, Faculty Weigh In on Presidential Debate
Thursday, October 4, 2012
Student members of C.O.U.P.S. (Committee for Undergraduate Political Scientists) watched last night's presidential debate between Republican challenger Mitt Romney and President Barak Obama in Granskou Hall, members of the Augustana Republicans gathered in the Academy House, and Dr. Emily Wanless, assistant professor of government and international affairs/political science, watched from home. They talked with local media about their impressions:
An estimated 60 million Americans watched the candidates face off in the Presidential Debate. From the get-go, one of the campaign priorities is to target young people getting them to vote.
KSFY stopped by Augustana College to visit with students from the non-partisan student group: Committee of Undergraduate Political Scientists, or C.O.U.P.S.
While they may not share views on the candidates or the issues, they share a big passion for politics and this year's election in general.
They wanted to hear all topics from the role of government to the small business sectors in America. Even more so, they were looking forward to seeing the two candidates interact and play off of each other's ideas.
While some admit they were disappointed in the same old statistics, the group says these are strong candidates and there's a clear choice one way or the other.
Watch the Video from KSFY-TV
"I follow what each of the stances are but I was hoping they would talk things out a little more. That doesn't appear to be what's going to happen. I'm still on the fence, I'll do more research and then decide where I'm at," C.O.U.P.S. President, Junior Drew Trahms said.
"I think Mitt Romney did a decent job of coming off pretty strong which is unique because he's traditionally pretty flat. He's telling jokes, he's talking specific numbers, wants to dig into the issues and that's not something he's famous for doing," Freshman Jesse Nelson said.
Students know this election is huge, not only because it's the first to cast their vote, but one that will directly affect them in the near future.
"The people who are here tonight are the people who, a generation from now, are going to be working on the issues that we're hearing discussed tonight, and that's really cool," Jesse Nelson said.
The basement room of an Augustana College dorm is the temporary home for a group of first-time voters still trying to decide which Presidential candidate to choose come November.
“This is actually my break from homework,” Augustana College senior Lauren Broadwell said. “I like this kind of stuff.”
This is the next generation of political junkies, the difference here is they call themselves non-partisan, for now.
“You can tell who likes who, but we never go after each other,” freshman Jesse Nelson said.
Watch the Video from KELO-TV
Nelson joined the Augustana C.O.U.P.S. group watching the debate Wednesday evening. The group is made up of Political Science students who like to talk politics.
“I want to hear how they view the role of government in this country and the direction they want to take the country as it relates to the role of government because that's the fundamental question at the base of this election,” Nelson said.
“As a voter, trying to get educated on the issues, I wish it was less combative,” Broadwell said.
Neither Broadwell nor Nelson could vote during the last Presidential contest. The youth base may not be fired up as much this time as it was in 2008, but Broadwell says they're still paying attention.
“And I've heard people in the cafeteria and commons discussing issues and clubs are talking so everyone has been trying to understand it,” Broadwell said.
Even cloaked by the safety net of college, the issues are still important here. If things like jobs and the economy don’t affect them now, the students know the issues soon will be important.
“I’m specifically interested in what the candidates are talking about and they care and want to listen,” Nelson said.
“I really hope our youth base has a good voice because we need it,” Broadwell said.
“I thought they did very well. They both seemed presidential. There were no personal attacks, which I really appreciated. They spoke in a manner that would lead everyone to believe that they are qualified for the office they are running for.”
Sioux Falls resident,
member of the League of Women Voters
“Clearly Romney did what he had to do. ... He seemed to me to be energized. I think there’s a lot of Republicans at home that feel good about watching their guy.”
Former South Dakota Republican Party chairman
“(Romney) was a good debater, he fared well, but he also was a very different person — someone who says he has compassion for the poor and middle income families when he’s never showed it from a policy standpoint in the past.”
Democratic strategist, former Obama deputy campaign manager
“I thought, frankly, Barack Obama was probably better overall. He was cooler. I thought a lot of his answers, clearly well-prepared, were delivered better. ... For the first few minutes of the debate, Romney ran circles around Obama. ... Romney got a little excited as the debate went on, and a little less effective.”
Political science professor, Northern State University
“I felt Romney exceeded expectations, which he needed to do. He seemed calm, cool. He came off to me as extremely intelligent and knowledgeable about the issues. ... I feel like Obama did what he needed to do in that he didn’t have any major gaffes.”
Political science professor, Augustana College
There was a lot at stake for both of the President Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney Wednesday night in Denver during the Presdiential debates and with less than 40 days until the General Election, the pressure is on to gain votes.
Debate watch parties have happened on all over country, including Sioux Falls and supporters from both political parties said the importance of these debates are to encourage people to hit the polls and cast their vote.
"People need to get away from some of the personal issues and focus on the actual issues of substance, healthcare, jobs, the economy," said Amanda Mack.
"I think it's more important for those who are undecided, where they can listen to each side and start forming some opinions and go out there and see which facts they think are correct and do some research on that," said Jesse Fonkert.
Apart from listening to the back and forth debate on important issues, people at the parties had some fun and keeping track of how close both candidates were staying in their time limit of two minutes.