Clayton State University students watch and take notes Wednesday night during watch party for the first of three presidential debates between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
MORROW Wednesday night’s debate between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, did little to move the needle on which way Clayton State University students plan to vote next month.
Approximately 100 students attended a presidential debate watch party hosted at the school by the university’s student newspaper, The Bent Tree, its television and Internet radio stations and student fraternal organizations Tau Epsilon, Pi Gamma Lambda and Alpha Phi Alpha.
Even though several pundits have called Obama’s performance in the debate “rusty,” the students laughed at many of the president’s quips and groaned at some of Romney’s answers. Many students said it didn’t change their mind about which candidate they will vote for on Nov. 6.
“It just re-affirmed my decision to vote for President Obama,” said LaTashia Way, a paralegal studies certificate student.
“It seemed like Gov. Romney took a lot of cheap shots and couldn’t back up what he had to say,” said fellow paralegal studies student Sylvia Crisp.
The watch party was intended to expose students to some of the pressing issues in the election, said Aaron Johnson, co-chair of Alpha Phi Alpha’s registration arm. Before the candidates took to the debate stage in Denver, students at Clayton State participated in a panel discussion on the issues of voter registration, civic engagement and domestic policies.
“We wanted to give them a bird’s-eye view of the election and the issues,” said Johnson.
Once Obama and Romney came on TV to debate, the crowd appeared to be heavily in favor of the president. They groaned when Romney did not come out and directly say what the difference was between the health care law he got enacted in Massachusetts as governor, and “Obamacare,” as the federal health care law the president pushed has come to be known.
“I don’t think Gov. Romney did a good job explaining his platform,” said Way. “He evaded the question.”
Other students said the debate did more to educate them on the issues rather than helping them choose a candidate to endorse.
“It was very insightful,” said Victoria Raby, a legal studies major from Fayetteville. “It didn’t sway me to change my mind about who I’d vote for, but it did give me a chance to find out more information about the issues they discussed.”
Cassandra Allen, an English education major from Morrow, added, “It will make it a little bit easier to sway other people to vote one way or the other, because you’ll be able to better explain where each candidate stands on some of the issues.”