Students and professor react to final presidential debate
Published: Friday, October 26, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 19:04
Political science and international relations professor Joseph Pikasaid he thought Monday’s presidential debate was more of a split victory for the president. Although President Barack Obama’sarguments may have been stronger, he said Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney’sappearance could have pushed him ahead.
“Romney was more likable and more attractive to some of the viewers,” Pika said. “But I thought the president was more forceful and projected more strength and greater confidence. However, I feel like Romney’s style may have been more attractive for last night.”
Newscaster Bob Schieffermoderated the third and final presidential debate at Lynn Universityin Boca Raton, Fla.on Oct. 22.The topic for the debate was foreign policy,which gave Obama and Romney the opportunity to discuss their plans for the future of the nation’s international relations.
Pika said the dynamics of the debate surprised him. Obama’s answers were more specific and direct than Romney’s more general answers, he said.
The topic gave Obama an advantage, Pika said. Romney’s field of expertise is more focused on domestic issues, primarily the economy, which he said is a result of his career as a businessman. Obama’s experience and knowledge of foreign policy showed on Monday, Pika said.
Pika said Obama excelled when talking about Iran and military spending, and Romney missed an opportunity to criticize how the administration handled American embassy officials’ deaths in Libya.
However, he said Romney made good points about the decline in America’s relationship with Israel. Romney’s comments about domestic strength influencing international strength were his strongest moments of the night, Pika said.
Romney accused Obama of makingAmerica too weak internationally when he started his term.
“The president began with an apology tour of going to various nations and criticizing America. I think they look at that and saw weakness,” Romney said during the debate referring to the president’s 2009 tour of the Middle East.
Romney also claimed that the U.S. Navy’s ship count has been reduced to pre-World War levels. Obama’s response has gained media attention.
“You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916,” Obama said. “Well, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them, and these ships that go under water, called nuclear submarines.”
Freshman Alison Williams,said she enjoyed hearing about the foreign policies of both candidates because the domestic policies had been overdone. She said Romney seemed somewhat out of his league during this debate.
“During the first debate, when Romney was talking about the economy, some of his plans I agreed with, but during this one, not at all,” Williams said.
One difference between this debate and the other two was the setting. Obama and Romney sat at a desk, similar to the vice-presidential debate between incumbent Democratic Vice President Joe Biden and Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan. Pika said this type of arrangement provided for a less contentious, more civil debate, as opposed to the town hall-style of the second debate.
When the two candidates were roaming around, attempting to dominate the stage, Pika said it distracted from the content of their arguments, which is why he preferred the seated-desk approach to the debate.
Pika criticized moderator Bob Schieffer. He said the newscaster’s questions were predictable, and he did not seem to want to push the candidates out of their comfort zone.
Freshman Caitlin Josephsaid she watched the debate and the post-debate analysis because she does not want to waste her vote.
“It’s my first year voting, and I really want to be an informed voter,” Joseph said. “Looking at the fact checkers, Obama’s facts seemed to stand a little stronger then Romney’s. I felt like Romney was a little wishy-washy with what he was saying.”
Freshman Stephanie Auerbach, on the other hand, said she thought Romney was the more forceful of the two, and that his points were stronger. However, the debate will not affect her vote, she said.
“I thought Romney had the better debate, but it didn’t change the fact that I still agree with Obama’s views more,” Auerbach said.
She said her favorite part of the debate was how the candidates related domestic problems to international problems. She said despite the debate’s topic, the economy and taxes are the issues that matter most to her.
Pika said he did not think the final debate would be highly influential for voters.
“Foreign policy is not the high-priority area of discussion in this election,” Pika said. “I think by now most people had decided which candidate they are likely to support, so I don’t think that there were many people whose opinions were changed.”