US Election: Presidential Debate Round One

BY SONIA BENHASSINE

As the race for the White House comes to a conclusion, join Sonia Benhassine and Tara McEvoy as they analyse the three presidential debates. 

The White House- HarshLight- Flickr

After months of bitter partisan tactics and a largely undecided electorate, President Obama and Mitt Romney finally met head to head.

The domestic issues covered in the debate at the University of Denver allowed Romney to point out the weaknesses in Obama’s four years in office. Numerous domestic policies proposed by Obama have been hindered by a Republican congress; hence Obama is referred to as a “lame duck president”.

With millions of Americans unemployed, it was apt that the first issue debated was that of the economy and job creation.

Obama, first to speak, suggested he entered office with a high unemployment rate but highlighted the successes of the last thirty months, such as the re-emergence of the auto industry. In the future Obama suggested, education be top priority for economic development, alongside investment in cleaner energy sources, while criticising Romney’s proposed five trillion dollar tax cut.

Romney, denying such a cut was ever suggested, stated “trickle down government” doesn't benefit the economy. He also supported the coal industry and claimed making America energy independent will strengthen the economy.

Both candidates appealed to the middle class with policies tailored to fit the needs of the “squeezed middle”. Romney’s proposal to give the middle cl

ass a so called “tax relief” was shot down by Obama with information from independent economists saying this will only make every middle class family worse off.

In terms of the deficit, Romney proposed cutting spending and growing the economy by cutting programmes such as “Obama-Care”. Obama’s rebuttal suggested that he entered the oval office with a trillion dollar deficit due to a “war paid for on a credit card” and proposed a four trillion dollar reduction plan. At this point Romney took the opportunity to criticise Obama for failing to implement such proposals during his term in office stating “you had four years Mr President”.

Obama regained his footing when standing up for his revolutionary health care plan, which Romney wants to repeal, despite the policy working considerably well in Romney’s State of Massachusetts. However, Romney had little substance in his argument except stating the States should regain control of health care.

Romney’s stance on state power fitted appropriately with the final topic for debate, “the role of the government”.

Obama showed his support for the federal government by showing how he has kept the American people safe as Commander in chief, and showed how his education initiative has worked effectively over forty-six states.

Romney on the other hand took an extremely patriotic approach which resonated with the public, by quoting the Declaration of Independence; he suggested the government interfered with “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. At this point, it appeared that Romney found his presidential voice with quick sound bites which contrast to what many say is Obama’s aloofness.

Although initial polls after the debate put Romney ahead of Obama, it will be interesting after the debate on foreign issues, to see if Romney appeals to the electorate as a Commander-in-chief as Obama has.

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