An opinionated crowd of GW students gathered Wednesday to watch the third and final debate of this election cycle, sponsored by bipartisan student groups.
The Jack Morton Auditorium in the School of Media and Public Affairs was filled with students and peppered with campaign t-shirts and buttons as three screens carried CNN’s coverage of the debate live from Hofstra University in New York.
Boos, cheers and claps followed delivery lines by Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain, D-Ariz, and Democratic nominee Barack Obama, D-Ill.
“Senator Obama, I’m not President Bush. If you want to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago,” McCain said, prompting cheers in the auditorium.
Students repeatedly laughed at comments and facial expressions of the candidates – the mention of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and McCain’s negative campaign style caused the crowd to erupt.
When the moderator Bob Schieffer asked both candidates what would happen if their running mates became president, the question was met with chuckles from the GW audience.
Some seemed to grow tired of this, and the crowd was repeatedly hushed.
“Liberals are like little children. Whenever they’re supposed to take things seriously they goof off and laugh,” junior Amarro Nelson said.
The candidates sparred over tax policy, trade, foreign policy, health care and energy independence.
Supporters of both candidates claimed victory.
“I’m an Obama supporter and I heard stronger points and arguments that were more substantiated than McCain’s,” freshman Kelsi Browning said. “I’m really positive, especially after tonight.”
Junior Brandon Hines, communications director for the College Republicans did not agree.
“I think John McCain really won the debate tonight.” Hines said. “He connected with the middle class voters and highlighted their differences.”