Whitman students disillusioned with third debate

Jacqueline Rees-Mikula

Monday, Oct. 22, students headed to Maxey Auditorium for a screening of the final presidential debate. The two candidates, perhaps tired of criticism for their behavior, showed signs of self-restraint when confronting one another on foreign policy issues. At times, they slipped into their usual pattern of interruption and denial, yet the tone of Monday’s debate did not compare to the hostility exemplified last week. Though key topics included Libya, Iran, Israel and the military budget, the discussion somehow ended with economics, education or a five-point plan within a matter of minutes. Members in the audience repeatedly expressed frustration with this consistent digression; some people commented how little the debate changed or improved their perceptions of the candidates.

In particular, Whitman students noticed that Romney and Obama did not radically differ on foreign policy issues. Here are some thoughts from students who watched tonight’s debate:

“I think that a lot of Americans don’t care about foreign policy, and as a result, the candidates continually tried to steer the argument towards domestic policy issues.”

“Romney seemed to be a little bit hypocritical, whereas I feel like Obama made sense. Romney tended to steer it away more just to avoid things. There were so many points when Obama blatantly told him that what he was saying wasn’t true. They were so confused on everything––they were saying the same thing, but at the same time not saying the same thing.”

“They didn’t differ very much in terms of their foreign policy, so it seems like they steered the issues more towards domestic policy. I don’t think this debate would be a deciding factor … It’s seen as a tie-breaker debate, ’cause Romney won the first one and Obama won the second. But there wasn’t a push in any direction this time. I didn’t really feel as much enthusiasm as before … not many new issues were brought to light.”

“I don’t think there was really a clear winner necessarily … they were almost enforcing the same foreign policy agendas, but Romney was saying ‘I’ll do it harder and I’ll do it more aggressively,’ whereas Obama said, ‘I’ll do it more thoughtfully.'”

“It just seemed like they were nitpicking a lot and just hating on each other … just trying to prove each other guilty … very childish and immature. I walked out.”