Presidential Debate

Michele Byrd

Hampton students weigh in on debate

Word Count: 472

Edited by: Tiffani Haynes

The first presidential debate of 2008 was held in Oxford, Miss. Friday, Sept. 26 between contenders Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama. As many college students at Hampton University got ready to kick off the weekend, a select few settled in the front of the television to watch one of the most anticipated events of this year’s presidential campaign.

“I want to watch because I care about what’s going on,” said Daniel Thomas, a senior engineering major from Chicago.    “I’m voting for Barack, but I want a more well-rounded opinion. I want to be able to defend my decision.”

However, as the days leading up to the debate ticked off the calendar, there was much confusion about whether there would even be a debate. Days before the event was scheduled to take place, McCain suspended his campaign citing the need to return to Washington, D.C. to help with the economic bailout bill making its way through Congress.

“I figured [the debate] was going to happen because McCain’s excuse didn’t have fuel,” said Thomas.

Junior broadcast journalism major Joyce Farley agreed.

“It’s not so much that I didn’t think it was going to happen. I didn’t believe in McCain’s antics,” said the Hackensack, NJ native.

 Andrea Thornton, a senior marketing major from Atlanta, said she needed to hear McCain talk more about his role in economics.

“I want him to account for his recent activity,” Thornton said. “I want him to tell me why this $700 billion bailout is so necessary.”

Despite rumors and questions about the looming debate, both candidates showed up Friday for the big night. Although the debate was supposed to be centered on foreign policy, candidates sparred over economics for the first 30 minutes of the hour and a half debate. McCain criticized Obama as a candidate who “doesn’t understand” many of the key issues the country is facing. Obama called the current economic crisis the “final verdict on eight years of failed economic policies promoted by George Bush and John McCain.”

At the end of the night, CNN analysts reported that neither candidate was a clear winner, but the polls told a different story. Obama gained ground in both the CNN poll and the CNN electoral map. Michigan, which was originally projected as a tossup state by CNN, was moved to the “lean Obama” column. Michigan has 17 electoral votes.

“Barack definitely won,” Thomas said. “There were times when McCain bashed. I didn’t appreciate that. I wasn’t looking for that.”

Farley agreed.

 “Obama did win. McCain’s points weren’t strong enough,” she said. “He hurt himself when he started cutting Obama off or the host off.”

Yet, Thomas said he had expected more from the contest.

“I want more details from both candidates,” he said. “I want specifics.”

The next presidential debate is scheduled for Oct. 7 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.