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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, June 24, 2024

Tufts Republicans and Dems debate '08 policies

Representatives from the Tufts Democrats and the Tufts Republicans squared off in a lively debate last night in Sophia Gordon Hall.

"I recognized that this is a lot of people's first election so we wanted to give them a comprehensive view from politically active people on campus," said freshman Dan Halpert, vice president of academic programming for the Class of 2012.

The debate went through three rounds. The first focused on foreign policy, the second on domestic issues and the third of which involved a town hall-style question session. The Dems, the Republicans and the Freshman Class Council organized the debate.

The first question concerned the world's point of view and opinion of the United States.

Freshman Taylor Bates of the Democrats was the first to respond. "The fact is that for the past eight years of Bush politics we haven't been the most positive authority in the world, but people are being energized by the [Barack] Obama campaign," he said.

Bates cited foreign polling that definitively supported Obama for the presidency.

Chas Morrison, a sophomore debating for the Republicans, responded, "An election is not an international popularity contest. [John] McCain understands that it's not all about hard power but about soft power."

The discourse shifted to domestic policy and the importance of middle class voters on the campaign trail.

Debaters from both parties made references to the increasingly famous folkisms of Joe the Plumber and Joe Sixpack, drawing laughs from the audience.

Sophomore Brian Agler of the Democrats said, "Joe Plumber and Joe Sixpack are the largest percent of the economy. We need to have tax cuts for 95 percent, for the middle and lower class. They are clearly suffering right now."

The hot-button terms of socialism and wealth redistribution employed to explain Obama's tax plan incited accusatory tones from both sides.

Sophomore Michael Hawley of the Republicans criticized Obama's tax plan. "It is just the Democrats' way of a wealth redistribution program. Americans don't like socialism," he said.

Transitioning from one heated topic to another, the moderator turned the conversation to the war in Iraq. The debaters concentrated on the United States' responsibility to handle the humanitarian aspect of the war.

"They want us to play a larger role in the development of their country. The key to any counter-insurgency campaign is to provide security to the Iraqi people," Morrison said.

Bates defended Obama's plan for withdrawal. "I think it is time for the American army to stand down and the Iraqi army to stand down," he said.

The debate moved on to discuss campaign financing and nuclear proliferation, on which both sides vehemently disagreed.

One of the last town hall-style questions asked the debaters to point out three weaknesses in the opposing candidate.

McCain's erratic response to the financial plan, his continuing of the economic policies of President George W. Bush and his energy plan were all downsides pointed out by Matthew McGowen, a freshman for the Democrats.

"Obama is too liberal, he is too liberal and he is too liberal," Hawley responded. He continued to explain how Obama's voting patterns are closely tied to the Democratic Party.

Responding to the Democrats' environmental concerns, Morrison explained the importance of off-shore drilling as a key component of any energy plan. "Oil is a security matter, and we need to drill for the sake of our national security," he said.

Off-shore drilling led the discussion to environmental issues, in which the Democrats were quick to point out that, contrary to statements made by the Republicans' side, McCain was not intune with environmental issues.

"It is absolutely ridiculous to think that McCain is a friend of the environment when he votes against alternative fuels and environmental protection," Agler said.

Throughout the night, both Republicans and Democrats had difficulty distinguishing their candidates from their political parties.

Hawley said, "John McCain isn't George Bush, which our opponents have seemed to confuse."

The Democratic side continuously called attention to Obama's leadership and independence from extreme left-wing Democrats.

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