To help students gain insight into the upcoming presidential elections, Queens College students and professors held a mock debate in Kiely Hall. to an audience of roughly 50 students.
Two teams — comprised of a student-professor duo — were pit against one another; one represented Republican presidential candidate, Gov. Mitt Romney and the other, Democrat and incumbent President Barack Obama.
Coordinated by the political science club and the business and liberal arts department, the debate was between BALA professors in place of the actual presidential candidates. The two teams consisted of Prof. David Leventhal and QC alumna Jacqueline Walpoe, debating on Obama’s behalf and Prof. Tim Rosen with student Joshua Schleifer debating on behalf of Romney. This had been something BALA students had been requesting for a long time as these students were aware of the political differences between the two professors and had always been curious to see how a political debate between the two would transpire.
The debate, moderated by Paul Nikolai Alzate of the political science club, granted each side a short opening statement before moving on to questions from the audience. Each professor —or assisting student — would be given three minutes to answer the question as well as a one minute rebuttal. Rosen focused on the question of whether we are better off now than four years ago, arguing that we are not due to rising unemployment rates and an ever increasing national deficit.
“National debt from when Obama took office: $10.5 trillion. The national debt I checked last night: $16.2 trillion. That is the single largest increase in the national debt in American history,” Rosen said. “This is not a recovery.”
Leventhal counteracted this claim by arguing that although we are currently under extremely difficult economic conditions, we are still taking a smaller hit than other nations in the world, such as Greece. He also mentioned we need to focus on Romney’s ideology as well as Obama’s actions.
Both Professors were asked difficult questions by members of the audience regarding certain criticisms of their candidate. Rosen was asked to defend Romney’s infamous flip-flopping on various issues, as well as his views on women’s rights.
Rosen responded saying that all politicians change viewpoints; regarding women’s rights, he stated how the true threats to women’s rights do not exist in America but rather overseas. He stated that if Obama was truly concerned about the rights of women, he should have done more to promote women’s rights and progressive behavior in other parts of the world where these rights are infringed upon.
Leventhal was asked to defend why the deficit has increased rather than decreased —as promised by Obama — and to explain the attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya. He defended Obama by stating that we are in a recession and it takes time and money in order to amend it. Regarding the attack in Libya, Leventhal stated that what happened there should not be an important deciding factor in the election.
In addition, Leventhal said that Obama’s actions are being hindered due to lack of support of a mostly Republican Congress and that Romney’s views of minimal government and deregulation of businesses, is what caused the economic collapse of 2008 to begin with.
Other questions posed during the debate involved the stimulus package, renewable energy, immigration and foreign policy. However, several key issues were not covered such as healthcare and tax policy. The moderator did not have any previously set questions to ask to insure that all necessary topics were covered.
However, one thing that everyone could agree on was that the debate was highly informative as well as entertaining to watch. Decide who won and check out the entire debate online on Youtube under “Queens College Bala/PolSci Debate.”