Published: Thursday, October 16, 2008
Students and other people interested in the presidential election gathered on Oct. 15 in the Hagler Auditorium on the Pensacola campus to watch the final presidential debate and participate in a group discussion that followed.
The 33 people who attended were treated to refreshments and snacks. They also received pamphlets, which were supplied from www.DeclareYourself.com, that provided biography summaries of the presidential candidates and their stance on key issues.
Before the debate began, attendees were asked to name a few of the issues that they wanted to hear each candidate discuss. Obama’s relationship with Ayers was a primary issue for most. McCain’s stance on the economy and “answering the questions” were also points people wanted to hear about.
Most of the crowd seemed to be Obama supporters as they snickered and made snide remarks during McCain’s portion of the debate. Several attendees said they felt McCain’s presentation was not as strong as Obama’s because McCain stumbled over words and blinked too much for comfort. Some students said they felt McCain wasn’t really talking to the American people as he repeatedly referred to “my friends” or “Joe Plummer.” One person said McCain wasn’t being genuine, and “I feel I’m being talked down to.”
After the debate, Mike Gilbert, assistant professor in the history department, led a discussion by answering students’ questions and pointing out flaws in the candidates, mainly McCain’s, debate. About arguments like McCain’s comment on Obama’s eloquence, Gilbert said, referring to President Bush, “I think it would be rather refreshing to have a president who has some eloquence.”
With organizations like the KKK still around today, questions arose about the consequences Obama might face if elected president. Gilbert said, “Once you stir up hatred, it doesn’t go away,” explaining that there are still people in the United States who have feelings against Obama because of his skin color.
Students said they felt the debate showing was enjoyable. Josh Gel, a physics major, enjoyed the discussion but said, “I wish there were more people involved.”
Gel said he believed the election was made because Obama did a good job clearing the air surrounding his campaign.
Some students said they felt McCain had become more negative as the debate went on and that he had failed to open up. “He doesn’t show enough passion,” said Cece Gant, member of the Students for Obama club at UWF. Members of the club believe that both Gov. Sarah Palin and Obama show passion in their campaigns, but McCain is lacking in that area. Chris Randall, president of Students for Obama, said “I think Obama has proven again that he is capable.”
Although there’s really no winner or loser when it comes to debates, it seemed, with many of the people who attended, that there was no question as to who had the better image and impact on the listeners, and Gel said, “I thought Obama nailed it.”
Most of the previous presidential debates were also shown on the large projector screen at the Hagler Auditorium and hosted by the Students for Obama club on the Pensacola campus. Jeniece Brown, vice president of the club, said the first presidential debate had a whopping showing of 78 attendants.