ASUCI Televises Final Presidential Debate
On the Evening of Monday October 22, UCI students and friends gathered around the Student Center Terrace to view the final Presidential Debate between incumbent President Obama and challenger Romney.
The event kicked off with an announcement by a UCI Students Vote member Katie Mesesan, who emphasized the importance of student voter registration. Within the past month, the ASUCI Voter Registration team was able to get over 5,000 students registered for the November 6election, surpassing their original goals of acquiring at least 4,000.
Along with the presidential election, California also faces an important election year because of the statewide propositions, including Prop 30’s tax increase and the impact on the UC system facing severe cuts if it fails to pass.
As the debate on foreign policy got underway, many students and viewers were eager to hear how Obama and Romney differed on issues such as the Middle East and Israel, but many were disappointed by the repetitive rhetoric of the candidates.
“I think Mitt Romney changed his position and like Obama he has a last resort mentality,” Reza Zomorrodian, a second year Political Science major, said. “The difference though is that towards Iran Obama is more lenient.”
President Obama came out strong in his statements, continually attacking Romney on the economy and his views on sending more troops to the Middle East. Romney strongly tried to sway the argument against his previous opinions in favor of troop resurgences in Iraq and Afghanistan. He defended himself, and argued that because American involvement will end by 2014, there is an expected date to remove American troops should the Republican candidate become president.
Both candidates made a cautious effort to come off as moderate, leading to many reversals of opinions and ideologies they previously had touted.
During the debate, both candidates tried to distance themselves from former President George W. Bush and his policies in the Middle East. Both had a hands-off approach to Syria and both refused to send any U.S. troops to help the rebel efforts. The debating candidates also touched on foreign trade, with Romney declaring that the United States will put an end to borrowing from China and increasing the American debt.
“It appears as though President Obama was the clear victor and Mitt Romney’s momentum has stopped,” Jose Quintana, a fourth year student at UC Irvine, said.. “Mitt Romney seems to offer a re-starting of an aggressive American foreign policy which the majority of Americans are tired of.”
Both candidates also sparred on the Israel topic, with Romney attacking Obama on his presidency’s lack of good public relations with the country, and failing to visit Israel when he was in the Middle East. Romney, on the other hand, spoke highly of his relations with Israel, and declared himself in favor of American and Israeli military strikes against the Iranian nuclear program.
For some students, the last presidential debate failed to live up to their expectations.
“I think the debates are pretty meaningless because they are owned by the Democratic and Republican parties, so we are just force fed there stances and pre-mediated opinions,” fourth- year Computer Science major Jacob Anderson said. “Overall the debate taught me nothing and was merely for entertainment.”
Among the students gathered for the televised debate, the tension leading up to the November election seemed clear as diverse opinions emerge among the increasing numbers of student registered voters at UCI.