It was a political boxing match Tuesday night at the Marvin Center as the chairman of the College Republicans and president of the GW College Democrats sparred over their parties’ presidential nominees at the CD-CR Presidential Debate.
CR Chairman Brand Kroeger and CD President Cory Struble defended Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama respectively on energy policies, the war on terror, health care and the economy to about 250 people, including moderator Eric Roper, editor in chief of The Hatchet. The two groups and The Hatchet co-sponsored the debate.
“Tax, tax, tax, spend, spend, spend,” Kroeger, a senior, said. “That is the rhetoric of Barack Obama.”
Struble, a senior, argued that Obama’s proposed tax cuts would affect 95 percent of Americans, creating tax rates identical to those during the presidency of Bill Clinton.
“As my momma said, ‘(the Republicans) call it trickle-down because it pisses on the middle class,’ ” Struble said, drawing laughter from the crowd.
As the debate shifted to the war on terror, Struble focused on Afghanistan and said mistakes were made in the Iraq War. He emphasized the importance of relocating troops to Afghanistan, where he said Al Qaeda has become more powerful.
Kroeger stressed the judgment shown by McCain throughout the war and the success of the McCain-supported surge in Iraq. He said Obama’s readiness to meet with foreign dictators shows the Democratic nominee’s lack of foresight.
Health care was also another hot-button issue during the debate.
“There are big differences between John McCain and Barack Obama’s health care policies,” Kroeger said. “Barack Obama wants to spend your money, and John McCain wants you to spend your money.”
Struble rebutted, “We need a truly transformational leader with a truly transformational plan to completely change health care.”
Although discussion of the issues filled much of the 90 minute debate, political jabs were made on both sides.
Kroeger referenced Struble’s prior support of former presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton, and touched on Obama’s comment that people in Pennsylvania “cling to guns or religion.”
Struble pointed out that McCain said U.S. forces could be in Iraq for 100 years. He also said the Arizona senator has a legislative record of being wrong for 30 years, and he related McCain’s economic plan to that of President George W. Bush.
The audience questions at the end of the debate, however, elicited the most reaction from the crowd. Eye rolls, name calling and laughs came from Democratic audience members as Kroeger defended the qualification of Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin.
“You can chuckle and laugh all you want, but if you look at her record, and behind those glasses I think you’ll see a woman who is qualified to be president of the United States,” Kroeger said.
Reactions from both sides reflected the partisan nature of the debate.
“I thought Cory’s answer on the economy was particularly salient and quite revealing. With Cory, you saw the outline of competent polices,” said sophomore Matt Ingoglia, communications director for the CDs. “I also particularly liked that Cory stuck to the policies and stuck to what mattered.”
CR communication director Brandon Hines, a junior, expressed a different view of the debate.
He said, “On a substance level, Brand really hit it out of the park tonight talking about how John McCain has the experience, spirit and optimism to lead a pro-growth agenda for America.”