On Wednesday, Oct. 3, students gathered in PAC 001 at 9 p.m. to watch a live stream broadcast of the first 2012 presidential debate. During the debate, President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney addressed questions primarily centered around the United States economy. The debate-watching event was hosted by the University chapter of the Roosevelt Institute, Democracy Matters, and the Wesleyan Democrats.
According to some of the students who attended, the turnout for the event was impressive.
“I was incredibly surprised by the number of people who showed up,” University Chapter Leader of Democracy Matters Alyssa Bonneau ’14 wrote in an email to The Argus. “I know Wesleyan is a very political campus, but it’s not often that visible.”
Wesleyan Democrats (WesDems) President Michael Linden ’15 claimed that Mitt Romney did not represent himself honestly during the debate.
“Regarding the debate, it seemed to [me] that Mitt Romney was very effective in running away from his record and reinventing himself,” Linden wrote in an email to The Argus.
Although typically candidates try to appeal to their parties’ bases, Bonneau said that neither candidate appeared to emphasize contrasting positions in the debate.
“In terms of the debate itself, I thought it was very flat,” Bonneau wrote. “The candidates both seemed very centrist, which was most surprising for Romney. At several points I thought he sounded like a Democrat. Obama tried harder to show differences between his plans and those of Romney, and it appeared that Romney was trying to say that he would do all of the positive things Obama has been doing.”
Jason Shatz ’14 also noted the candidates’ attempts to be more centrist and diplomatic, and he added that Obama’s manner did not help him in the debate.
“Obama seemed very deliberative and introspective during the debate, a quality for which he has been simultaneously praised and mocked,” he wrote in an email to The Argus. “His frequent hesitations certainly differed from Romney’s more fluid delivery and arguments, and he clearly did not dominate the debate.”
Both Bonneau and Linden seemed to think that neither candidate did an outstanding job at the debate. Bonneau criticized the absence of debate regarding the candidates’ ideas for a direction for the country.
“There were a couple interesting moments, but overall I thought both candidates could have done a better job at adding vision into their discussion of policy,” Bonneau wrote.
Linden noted that Obama appeared unprepared to respond to attacks by Romney.
“Romney was certainly on the offensive and Obama seemed like he didn’t quite expect or know how to handle it,” Linden wrote. “Both candidates ignored the debate guidelines and stretched the truth (as always), especially Romney regarding death panels, the deficit and his tax plan.”
Linden is not the only person to note both Romney and Obama’s citation of incorrect facts and statistics. According to a recent article in The New York Times, Romney falsely stated during the debate that Obama had doubled the deficit. Similarly, according to the article, Obama falsely stated that Romney would introduce a $5 trillion tax cut.
Students who are interested in the debate and the presidential election can register to vote at Russell Library, which, like all libraries in the State of Connecticut, offers voter registration yearround. Christine Angeli, the head of circulation services, said applications are available at the Circulation Desk in the lobby. Additionally, the WesDems have been canvassing freshman dorms to register students to vote in Connecticut and the University Mail Services office in Usdan has voter registration forms available.