The first debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney is scheduled for this Wednesday. As DePaul students, and eligible voters, it is our duty to obtain as much information as we possibly can to help guide our decision-making process.
“College students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and will have issue concerns that vary as a result,” said Wayne Steger, DePaul political science professor. “My perspective would be for voters to focus on a range of issues, with the economy and jobs being high on the list along with federal aid to education, immigration, and others.”
College students should begin watching the debates already knowledgeable on the topics being covered. “Young people generally are not highly attentive to politics,” associate professor of communication Steger said.
Each of the three scheduled presidential debates are framed around a specific topic, the topic for Wednesday will be domestic policy. There will be six 15-minute segments for the first debate, the first three will be about the economy, followed by health care, the role of government and governing.
“I urge college students to pay attention to economic issues regarding the sustainability of essential programs such as Medicare and Social Security,” said Barbara Willard, DePaul associate communications professor. “And of course, for the short term, college students should pay attention to any economic policy that will alter the student loan, Pell Grant system in the U.S.”
Bryan Kennedy, senior, has done his part to keep informed. He is ready to watch the debates and pay attention to the issues that he finds most important. “With the unemployment rate lingering around eight percent throughout our nation, and even worse in other parts of our country, I believe that the economy is absolutely the most pressing issue in the debate,” Kennedy said.
Whether President Obama takes on another four years at the White House or MittRomney relieves him from this position, the country and our lives.
“Our national debt is at its highest level ever and the government continues to spend,” said Kennedy.
“Meanwhile, the middle class of our nation has witnessed their incomes evaporate and their work become harder. For much of America, the past five years have been extremely difficult.”
PBS’s “Newshour” host Jim Lehrer will be moderating the first debate and is responsible for choosing the segments’ topics. Lehrer will open each of the segments with a question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond.
According to Bruce Evensen, professor at the College of Communication and expert on press coverage of the presidential campaign, the answer is, “much less than you might think.”
“The reason for this is that voters have lived in an Obama economy,” said Evensen.
So, what kinds of questions can you expect to be asked at the first debate? Jim Lehrer is the only person who can currently answer this question, but people are allowed to speculate.
The national debt, climate change, and unemployment are only a few of the numerous issues that seem to be on the mind of voters.
“As an American, I want honest answers on how each of the candidates’ economic plans intend to restore the American economy;” said Kennedy.
“What they believe is the best approach to restore the promise of the middle class and how they plan on cutting the staggering national debt.”
“I would ask how the candidates would address the greatest challenge of our time, climate change,” said Willard.
“I’d ask Obama, ‘You said if you got the stimulus passed, unemployment won’t go over 8 percent. But it’s been 8 percent for 43 consecutive months. Why should I think it will be better if I reelect you?’ said Evensen.
The first debate will be broadcast live Wednesday on C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC, as well as all cable news channels. President Obama and Mitt Romney will be facing off on the topic of domestic policy, a highly anticipated discussion.
In order to fight past the speculation and get the most from the debate as a viewer, keep up-to-date on all of the issues, and the positions of each debater beforehand.
There are a number of online resources where you can find the past voting records of both the candidates. Many break down the records by topic in order to make it easier to understand.