Faceoff: College pols defend candidates

College Democrats and Republicans faced off during “Election Society Politics: A Presidential Election Forum,” sponsored by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Sept. 22.

The election panel brought up relevant issues, encouraging audience interaction and questions that helped heat up the discussion.

Daryl Fair, professor of political science, introduced the panel and gave background on the candidates, as well as issues that affect College students, such as health care.

The contenders were the College Republicans, represented by president Brian Hackett, and the College Democrats, represented by Mike Tracey, and Kelly Rossiter.

“We’ve heard a lot about hope and change . Keep an open mind since both sides are talking about change but the differences are in the type of change,” Hackett said, speaking on behalf of Republican nominee Sen. John McCain.

“We feel as if (Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama) can move the country forward (considering) the complex issues that we are faced with,” Tracey said. “We need to make a change in politics, in our leadership and how we confront problems.”

The panel started off by discussing the economy.

“Our economy has not been good,” Tracey said.

“The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer,” he added. “I attribute this to the deregulation and … Bush, supported by McCain in the Senate.”

Hackett said, “I want to remind everyone that we are not in a great depression and not in a recession. No one is going to say that it’s been perfect but the last seven years we have gone through a lot.”

A member of the audience asked why neither of the candidates support gay marriage.

“Obama doesn’t support gay marriage … but he grants all of the rights offered to heterosexual couples,” Tracey said. The union is termed civil union and not marriage because “it is an issue that many people feel strongly about,” he said.

The Republicans viewed gay marriage similarly.

“In terms of the term marriage I think it is a pretty mainline road,” Hackett said.

Questions soon turned to the personalities of both candidates.

Christian Toatley, senior political science major, asked the panel how each of the candidates would handle America’s involvement in Iraq.

Tracey said, “$343 million a day . that money could have been spent on education and healthcare.”

Hackett cited a recent decrease in violence and confirmed McCain’s position on Iraq.

“McCain’s statement about 100 years in Iraq was not referring to the time we will spend in Iraq. It was not referring to the troop levels in Iraq. A 100-year commitment did not mean a 100-year troop commitment,” Hackett said.

The discussion ended with closing statements of both sides.

“McCain is not the right person for the job right now,” Tracey said.

“What change do we want, good change or bad change?” Hackett asked. “The historical ramifications of the election should be commended for that . yet the level of apathy is sickening and a cancer on democracy.”