Many Mercer students experienced their first presidential debate this past Wednesday in the new Center for Collaborative Journalism. This was the opening of the presidential debates for 2012 between candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
Quadworks and the Society of Collegiate Journalism co-hosted the debates by providing three rooms for viewing as well as a substantial amount of food.
Students crammed into crowded classrooms where the debate could be observed and discussed. Quentin Mays, a junior, said “I wanted to be among the camaraderie and share in political discourse. This is a rare occurrence and only happens once in four years, so I want to take advantage of it.”
The candidates covered a wide array of issues from the mission of the federal government to healthcare.
In a poll, conducted by SGA, the Lyceum, the Center of Theology, and the Office of Campus Life, a majority of Mercer students answered that the economy is a concern in the upcoming election.
During the debate, President Obama emphasized that education was the key to economic development. “I want to hire another 100,000 new math and science teachers, and create 2 million more slots in our community colleges so that people can get trained for the jobs that are out there right now,” said Obama.
Nominee Mitt Romney broke down his economic plan into five parts including: energy independence, more open trade, creating a more learned workforce, balancing the budget, and champion small business. “Now, I’m concerned that the path that we’re on has just been unsuccessful. The president has a view very similar to the view he had when he ran four years, that a bigger government, spending more, taxing more, regulating more — if you will, trickle-down government — would work,” said Romney
In the Mock Election poll Mercer students rated sociwwal issues as the third most important topic in the upcoming election. The Affordable Care Act, also know as Obamacare, was at the forefront in the discussion concerning healthcare.
Romney, who stated that he would repeal the act, said, “the best course for health care is to do what we did in my state: craft a plan at the state level that fits the needs of the state. And then let’s focus on getting the costs down for people, rather than raising it with the $2,500 additional premium.” According to Romney the Obamacare incurs an additional $2,500 compared to previous healthcare initiatives.
On the opposite side Obama supported the act saying that it affects the American people in two ways. First, that if a person has insurance that it gives more power to the individual, lets them keep their doctor, and ensures that insurance companies cannot make capricious decisions when it comes to a person’s healthcare. Secondly, for those people who are unable to afford healthcare it gives the option to get a group plan and is suppose to have lower costs to the individuals. “There are two ways of dealing with our health care crisis. One is to simply leave a whole bunch of people uninsured and let them fend for themselves…Or, alternatively, we can figure out, how do we make the cost of care more effective? And there are ways of doing it,” said Obama.
Students who attended the debate viewing were able to clarify and discuss information presented by the potential condidates. Many students are attempting to inform themselves of the issues and why it matters. “This is my first time voting and I want to get involved and make my vote count,” said freshman, Nykki Mcculler.
Mercer will continue hosting the presidential debates and other political themed events throughout the time leading up to the election. The opportunity presented by hosting these debates on campus is to ensure students understand the weight of their decisions. Sam Dunham, a senior, said, “If I am casting my vote for someone I want to know what I am getting into.”