Election Connection Commentary: Candidates face off in first debate
As President Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney took the stage Wednesday night, they met center stage, exchanging a laugh. That was the last time the two candidates would be cordial to one another for the rest of the night.
Obama and Romney touched on such topics as unemployment, what they would do with the current health care system and how they would cut back the national deficit, often going over the time limit set by moderator Jim Lehrer.
The first section of the debate focused on the economy as a whole, and mainly what each candidate would do to help boost job creation in America.
Obama said developing renewable sources of energy is key to job creation in the next four years.
“When we develop new sources of energy, it creates new jobs,” he said. “We also want to take the money we are saving from getting out of these foreign wars, and use it to reduce the debt, which will also create more jobs.”
Romney agreed with Obama that renewable energy sources would lead to an increase in the number of available jobs, he elaborated further and explained a five-point plan he has if elected.
“First, we want to be energy independent,” he said. “We want to open up trade, especially with Latin America, we want to make sure that people receive the proper education so that they have the skills to go into the workforce, I will also work to balance the budget and we want to get small businesses going again.”
Romney also said he wants to expand offshore drilling and expand a pipeline from Alaska to decrease America’s dependence on foreign oil.
Senior communications major Ciana Bell said after hearing the candidates’ arguments, she was unimpressed with both Romney and Obama.
“I feel Romney is winning because he is using an awesome rhetorical technique,” she said. “He’s mystifying the audience. Obama is just trying to get words in, it’s crazy.”
The issue of jobs quickly led into a discussion on the national debt. Romney said that to cut down on the deficit, he will cut federal spending and decrease the amount of money America must borrow from China.
“It’s critical that we examine what we are spending money on, and if it’s not important enough that we need to borrow money from China, we’ll cut it,” he said. “I will cut funding to PBS for one, I love Big Bird, and I really like you Jim, but these are the types of cuts we need to make to put America back on track.”
Obama came back at Romney and said that his plan to cut taxes to the wealthy will only worsen the national deficit, to which Romney replied that he will not make any tax cuts that would increase the deficit. The debate then turned to the issue of healthcare.
Romney said that his plan, like Obama’s, would cover pre-existing conditions. Obama came back at Romney, and said that the Governor’s plan does accomplish this, and his plan was an expansion of private health care, rather than public, and hurts the health care system.
“At some point, the American people have to ask themselves if Governor Romney is keeping his plans secret because they are too good,” Obama said. “If they would benefit the middle class too much. Eventually we will have to tackle the tough problems of pre-existing conditions, but Americans should realize we are making decisions that are benefiting families.”
During his argument on healthcare, Romney said that America had the best healthcare system in the world, although the U.S. was ranked 37 out of 191 in a list of the best healthcare systems in the world, according to PolitiFact.
Romney also mentioned that in his time as governor, Massachusetts was ranked as the best school system in the country, although Maryland was ranked number one, according to the Washington Post. Despite some errors in facts, junior graphic design major Ericka Morterud said she believed Romney’s use of facts was allowing him to win the debate.
“[Romney] has good facts, and Obama isn’t rebutting,” she said. “Especially in the small business aspect.”
Obama was up next, and addressed the role that government should play and the size of government in America.
“I believe that government has the capacity to help open up opportunity and create ladder of opportunity and create a framework so that Americans can succeed,” Obama said. “We want to give gateways of opportunities to all Americans. That doesn’t restrict people’s freedom, that enhances it. We’ve got to reform schools that aren’t working, and let’s hire another 1,000 math and science teachers, and our states can’t do that right now, and our government could make a difference in that and help create jobs.”
Romney rebut to Obama was that he does, in fact, support teachers and schools, but it doesn’t mean that the role of the government should be expanded. Romney said the government shouldn’t be substituting itself for “the rights of other Americans,” and the proof that the government shouldn’t be expanded is that “23 million people are out of work.”