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Presidential Debates: Consider issues when voting

O’hea is a first-year LPS and journalism double major and can be reached at olivia.ohea@drake.edu

This election season, President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney debate three times, while Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan face off only once. Two debates between the presidential candidates already occurred, on Oct. 3 and 16, but voters can still watch the final debate live tonight on most major networks. The vice presidential candidates already debated on Oct. 11 — however, highlights from all debates can be found online.

The first debate between Obama and Romney, moderated by Jim Lehrer of PBS, covered domestic policy issues like the economy, government funding, taxes and social issues. Analysts agree that Romney came out with the upper hand, calling Obama’s defensive strategies “passive.” This debate gave Romney a slight edge in the preliminary polls, but the next debate, between vice presidential candidates, leveled the playing field once again.

The V.P. debate, which was moderated by Martha Raddatz of ABC News, began discussing foreign policy issues like the recent attack on the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi, Libya. Ryan used these attacks as a symbol for Obama’s weak foreign policy, but Biden successfully refuted Ryan’s claims and later took the offensive in debating the Ryan/Romney economic platform. Many Republicans criticized Biden for his “attitude,” laughing and scoffing, calling it rude and condescending. The majority of analysts, though, claimed Joe Biden the “winner” — he argued forcefully and articulated the Democratic platform well.

The most recent debate, between Obama and Romney was done in a town-hall format, meaning undecided voters could ask the candidates questions regarding foreign and domestic policy while the moderator, CNN’s Candy Crowley, facilitated discussion. The CNN political ticker reported that roughly 46 percent of voters who saw the debate favored Obama while only 39 percent favored Romney (about 15 percent remained undecided). The economy proved a popular topic with both candidates outlining their plans for taxation on the middle class. For the still-undecided voter, one debate remains. Formatted the same as the first debate, the candidates will focus on foreign policy.

When considering both candidates I urge voters to consider the issues, facts and plans rather than the demeanor or appearance of the prospective candidates. More important than whom you vote for, however, is that you vote — early voting begins on Oct. 23 on the Pomerantz Stage and election day is Nov. 6!

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