West Chester University hosted its own presidential debate with the College Democrats and College Republicans facing off in a political debate highlighting the positions of President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry (D.-Mass.).Moderated by professor Michael Rodriguez of the political science department, the Oct. 13 debate held in the Sykes ballrooms tackled issues centered on domestic policy, homeland security, and foreign policy.
Reacting to the debate, WCU student Marlaina Geffers said each side seemed to know detailed facts about the issues.
Both parties maintained the platforms of their respective presidential candidates while attempting to reinforce negative images of opposing candidates with allegations of Kerry as a waffling hypocrite and Bush as an oil-hungry warmonger.
Stating that Kerry?s voting record reflected decisions to raise taxes, College Republicans Vice President Eric Anderson said of Kerry?s plan to tax people who earn $200,000 or more that “there?s a difference between what John Kerry says and what John Kerry does.”Questioning Bush?s motives for preemptive action in Iraq, College Democrats vice president Bill Casto said, “Justifications are illusions,” and suggested that oil played a role in the decision to invade Iraq.
While each side reinforced image attacks, they also clarified positions on key issues such as health care and abortion.
To the question “How is Bush?s support of life consistent with his support of the death penalty?” the republican camp summarized his perspective by defining abortion as the taking of innocent life versus the death penalty as the taking of guilty life.
To the question, “Where does Kerry stand on abortion?” democrats responded that he personally opposes abortion, but does not plan to enforce his belief while serving in office.
On the health care issue, both sides said their candidates support broadening access to health care without raising taxes. However, their plans vary significantly with Kerry preferring more government involvement than Bush.
Democrats noted that the Kerry plan supported use of the government to offer tax breaks and subsidies to employers – enabling them to afford better coverage for their workers and lower the cost of premiums.
In contrast, republicans explained that Bush favored the proliferation of more community health centers that help people of low-income and health savings accounts a newly developed plan designed to encourage people to rely less on the government by allowing them to save money in a tax free account used for health costs.
President of the College Republicans Richard Oettinger said, concerning the topics discussed that, he was glad the “issues weren?t too soft.”
Some other issues of the evening also questioned how candidates would improve the budget deficit, foster positive United Nations relations, and contain the threat of terrorism.
College Democrats President James Klapp said that the debate achieved a great accomplishment by showing that college students are informed about political issues.
Reflecting on the impact of the debate, WCU student Kate Steward said, “I hope people go out to vote.”
The debate will run on WCUTV until Nov. 2.