President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivered a fiery performance in Tuesday’s debate, prompting a range of responses from students who gathered to watch.
Obama and Romney debated for the second time at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. There is one more presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida on Monday.
Penn State Students for Barack Obama and Penn State College Democrats gathered in a classroom in Henderson South Building. Red, white and blue tinsel and shiny stars decorated the classroom, and Obama-Biden yard signs leaned against a table at the front of the room.
Taylor Garland, president of Penn State Students for Barack Obama, said before the debate that the town hall format is one in which Obama can shine.
“This is his arena. He can really connect with the average voter and understand their concerns and their issues and show how his policies will help them,” Garland (senior-public relations and political science) said.
The crowd broke into applause when Obama talked about immigration policy and equal pay for equal work for women. Debate watchers cheered or laughed at high points and sometimes spoke out when they disagreed with Romney’s remarks. On a few occasions, the CNN live stream timed out, leaving viewers in suspense before it resumed.
Genevieve Logerie (senior-psychology) said Obama won last night’s debate. He had a stronger performance when both candidates addressed outsourcing American workers, she said. Logerie said Romney was defensive and didn’t speak much about how he planned to bring work back to the United States.
Obama understands what it means to represent a country of people with diverse backgrounds, Logerie said. She said she often finds that Obama addresses America, whereas Romney addresses Obama. That says a lot about what both candidates plan to do, Logerie said.
Garland said a lot of the debate questions were different than in previous debates, which expressed how citizens view the election, as opposed to the media or academic world. The debate was a victory for Obama, Garland said.
“He was clear, direct and human and really connected with the undecided voters’ concerns, which I think translates into the concerns of the rest of the country,” Garland said.
As for the Penn State College Republican watch party, the turnout was smaller — although pizza was still provided.
Around 15 members of the group crowded around a small television to watch President Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney duke it out Tuesday night in the town hall style debate that addressed everything from the state of the economy, to the future of energy in the United States.
The atmosphere was largely subdued throughout most of the debate, with many concentrating on what both of the candidates were saying.
However, the silence was routinely interrupted by the laughs and short comments associated with any type of verbal confrontation between Obama and Romney — of which there was a good deal.
Curtis Houck (junior -political science and history) thought the banter was counterproductive.
“It was really tense between the candidates and the moderator tonight,” Houck said. “Both clearly interrupted each other many times, and this caused it to be much less informative then previous debates were, or rather, informative in a much different way.”
Despite the argumentative nature of the evening, the general consensus amongst the crowd was that both candidates performed well.
Molly Sheerer, secretary of the College Republicans, spoke highly of both candidates.
“Romney was the same as he was in the last debate,” Sheerer said. “He was very energetic and confident while Obama was much more feisty than before… they both performed well for what they were each trying to accomplish.”
Now with only three weeks till the election, attention is turning toward the third and final debate.
Anthony Christina, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Federation of College Republicans, has high hopes for the night.
“I expect it will be a wild, bare knuckle, all out brawl between the two of them,” Christina said. “You’re going to see the fire in Mitt’s belly.”