Temple College Democrats hosted a party in Tuttleman Learning Center last night to watch the first presidential debate of the 2012 election cycle. The debate was held at the University of Denver and streamed live on various online news sources and YouTube.
TCD President Dylan Morpurgo provided snacks for attendees and talked about the opportunity to watch the debate with other students.
“There are grassroots organizers all over the country right now tonight having the same [events],” Morpurgo, a junior political science major, said. “It’s a fun opportunity for students to all come together at night and just kind of hang out and watch together. It gives it a sense of unity knowing there are people just like them all across the country doing the same thing.”
Democratic incumbent, President Barack Obama, was the first candidate to introduce himself by announcing that last night was his 20th wedding anniversary with his wife Michelle, eliciting a chorus of cheers from the TCD attendees. Republican candidate Mitt Romney found no favor with the group, usually provoking laughter or outrage at comments like “clean coal” and “pipeline from Canada”.
“I think the president is doing great, Governor Romney is showing that he’s really out of touch with reality and the problems that the American people are facing,” Morpurgo said. “It’s a rallying thing, we get to get excited, we get to get a little pumped up and realize that we’re so close, we’re almost there and we have to keep pushing.”
Moderator Jim Lehrer had difficulty keeping the candidates within their allotted speaking time and was frequently interrupted by both. The topics ranged from the economy to the deficit to the environment. A significant amount of time was dedicated to both candidates’ health care plans and a major theme of the evening was job creation.
“The thing I loved the most was that the president kept saying he likes the term ‘Obamacare,’” Morpurgo said. “We do too, because Obama cares. He cares about the American people and it shows in [his healthcare] bill and in what he’s been doing the last four years.”
Tuttleman closed mid-way through the debate, causing the watch party to move to the Temple Student Government office to watch the remainder. The walk across Main Campus provided an opportunity for students to discuss the debate and the issues presented.
“It’s just nice to watch the debate with like-minded people and to share the experience rather than sitting at home,” said junior political science major Sonia Galiber. “From my standpoint, I do believe that Governor Romney’s opinions and statements have been relatively inconsistent but that inconsistency is something that I expected.”
Galiber said that the debate will be significant for undecided voters but Morpurgo disagreed.
“The debate’s don’t really make up anybody’s mind,” Morpurgo said. “The percentage of Americans that are undecided at this point is so small, these debates aren’t going to be making up their minds.”
With a voter registration deadline of Oct. 9 fast approaching, Galiber said that she and others involved with TCD have been out on Main campus registering students to vote.
“We have gotten registration every day, we have people out there every day and it’s usually a positive ‘Yeah, I’m already registered’ so at this point, that’s what we want to hear,” Galiber said. “At the end of the day, that’s the big goal here. It’s just a matter of picking out the kids that aren’t [registered] yet.”
Galiber emphasized that ultimately, citizens have to make up their own minds about the candidates.
“At the end of the day, individuals have to do their own research,” Galiber said. “They really need to fact check what’s important to them because commercials aren’t going to tell you everything, the media’s not going to tell you everything, the debates won’t tell you everything. It impacts everyone and I think the biggest mistake people can make is underestimating how much this election can affect their lives”
TCD will host watch parties for the two remaining presidential debate, as well as the upcoming vice-presidential debate. Morpurgo said that the group will also collaborate with the Temple University College Republicans to set up a student debate between them later in the semester.
Kate Kelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.