Mt. Hood Community College hosts 'party' for Oct. 3 presidential election debate

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Laura Aguon, Mt. Hood Community College director of student and federal affairs, makes an introduction to students at the beginning of the presidential debate Wednesday night in the student center. Rayna Adams, 28, a sociology and pre-law major at Mt. Hood Community College, was unsure whom she was supporting prior to the Oct. 3 debate between Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama.

Following the debate, during which the candidates sparred over the economy and health care, among other issues, Adams made up her mind.

“I will definitely be a Romney voter,” she says. “His presentation and performance demonstrated leadership skills and decisive responses that were really impressive.”

Whereas much of the electorate has already decided for whom it will vote, Adams says, “I really wanted to see how these candidates performed when directly and publicly questioned by each other.”

Romney was direct in his answers, she says, whereas Obama was “extremely lackluster” and “vague.”

Adams was one of several Mt. Hood students who attended a debate viewing party in the student union, sponsored by Associated Student Government. Her view of Romney’s debate performance was somewhat similar to that of William Miller, the student government OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Mt. Hood Community College students watch the first of three televised presidential candidates' debates Oct. 3 in the student union.

“Romney had a very strong performance and looked a bit livelier than the president, while President Obama had more thoughtful answers,” Miller says. “I’d call it a draw.”

Romney was good on specifics, maybe too good, Miller adds.

“He had a lot of factual data, if you will,” Miller says. “He responded very eloquently. But what I didn’t like is how he would pick something Obama said and focus on it almost too much.”

Despite the fact that he thought Romney bested the president in the debate, Miller says he’ll vote for Obama, and notes he’s speaking on his own behalf, not on behalf of student government.

“I agree with the Obamacare,” Miller says. “I also like the fact (Obama) focuses on higher education. I think President Obama will offer access and opportunity to people who want to go to college.”

Goodbye Big Bird?

Eduardo Ortiz, a senator in the college’s student government, says he was surprised by Romney’s comment that he would cut the federal subsidy to PBS, “which I find a vital part of the community. Being of lower income, I grew up with no cable television and depended on PBS to watch cartoons, which thankfully were extremely educational.”

He also says a lot of people are “worrying” because they’re not sure exactly what plans Romney brings to the table, a point of contention raised by Obama during the debate.

“Romney’s performance did shine, however, which surprised myself and other people,” Ortiz says. “He was very confident and on point, which is a side of Romney he has been lacking in showing on his campaign trail.”

Ortiz says he appreciated the candidates’ discussions of such issues as how small businesses have been faring and the fate of higher education. He added that he felt “Obama’s performance did not shine as much as expected. He seemed a little unprepared and was not nearly as on point as Romney.”

Style, substance

Brady Carey, who teaches speech communication at Mt. Hood, says, “Overall this wasn’t a great debate in my mind, but if I had to pick a winner, it was Romney.”

Romney displayed leadership qualities on stage, he says, whereas Obama started off looking presidential but eventually came off more like a professor explaining intricate details about such topics as Obamacare and failed to aggressively defend his policies.

On the other hand, Carey says when folks examine what Romney actually said during the debate, they would find he has shifted his positions over the past year and a half on such issues as taxes and Medicare. Hence, although he thinks Romney did a better job in the first debate, Carey says he’ll vote for Obama.

“I know exactly what I’m getting with Obama,” Carey says. “At this point I have no idea who Mitt Romney is, whereas with Obama I’m pretty sure I know what he’s going to do.”

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