This item originally appeared in the October 28, 2004 issue of The Tech Talk.
By ELLIOTT DONNER
Jobs were an issue as members of the College Republicans and the College Democrats battled out U.S. presidential candidates' platforms in a debate held Oct. 21 in the Wyly Tower of Learning auditorium.
Speaking for the College Republicans were Lynsie Fielder, president of the debate team and a senior speech major, and Brooke Swanson, a member of the debate team and a senior accounting major.
Representing the College Democrats were Mindy Nunez, a senior political science major, and Jay Williams, senior a history major.
Williams is a member of Tech's debate team and Nunez is not, making her the only participant in the debate not on the debate team.
The debate was sponsored by the College Democrats and the College Republicans, along with Tech's chapter of Phi Alpha Theta history honor society.
Stephen Webre, a professor of history and faculty adviser of Phi Alpha Theta, said, "We do it to encourage student interest in the political process because a healthy democracy depends on active citizens," Webre said.
The College Republicans and Democrats each had two representatives and answered questions from a panel of judges.
The judges included Dr. Reginald Owens, an associate professor of journalism; Darlene Bush Tucker, senior writer for Tech's news bureau; Tony Taglavore, news director of KTVE-Monroe; and Jordan Blum, head of the Ruston bureau of the Monroe News-Star.
The judges drew lots to determine the order of questions, and the debate was conducted in round-robin style, in which each participant debated against every other debater at least once.
There were three rounds of questioning. The first was domestic policy, the second was foreign policy, and the last was open to any questions from the judges.
In round one, Owens asked Swanson about job outsourcing in the United States. Swanson said, "Bush realizes that if the nation pulls our jobs and businesses out of other countries, other countries are going to pull their jobs and businesses out of this country."
Nunez replied and said, "Bush has pulled our country into a $422 million deficit and it is mostly because of his outsourcing and corporate welfare policies."
In round two, Taglavore asked Fielder, "Do you think America has gone from being looked at as a respected model country to a country seen as a bully who imposes our beliefs on others?"
Fielder said, "Bush has liberated Iraq from Saddam and his coalition and created 76,000 jobs in Iraq."
Nunez rebutted and said all Bush has done is rush into war.
"Bush needs to focus more on jobs in the U.S," Nunez said.
Round three was open, and Tucker asked Fielder if she could reassure voters that no matter who wins the election the two parties can work together.
Fielder said she could not reassure voters that if Kerry is elected he will see eye to eye with anything the Republicans are doing because he "flip-flops" on so many issues.
"Kerry will stand in front of one group who believes in abortion and say he believes in it, and then will stand in front of a group who doesn't believe in abortion and say he doesn't believe in it," Fielder said.
"That is what Kerry has proven through his leadership. I shouldn't even use the word leadership because that doesn't describe Kerry at all."
Nunez replied and said that unlike Bush, "Kerry doesn't impose his personal beliefs about issues such as abortion."
The three rounds went fast but, "I think the debate was a success; the event got both issues out and laid all the facts out on the table," Fielder said.
Trey Gibson, faculty adviser for the College Republicans and the debate team, said Fielder and Swanson both were very well-prepared for the debate, and he said he feels like it was a success.
The Democrats said they felt the same way and were proud of everyone and the audience participation.
Jason Pigg, faculty adviser for the College Democrats and an assistant professor of social science, said, "I think we did a good job, especially facing the experienced Republican debaters.
"We got our main democratic platforms out in a fairly hostile crowd consisting of mostly Republicans."
Nunez said she thought the debate was an overall victory for everyone. "The student participation shows that college students want to be involved in making a difference," Nunez said.
The College Republicans were also impressed by the full house of students at the debate.
Fielder said, "Tonight's event was huge. I am proud the student body came to support the election. It shows students have a voice, too."