It may have been called a town hall meeting, but the presidential debate Tuesday night could be called a spitting match due to the constant disruptions between the candidates.
The atmosphere of the Pub in the Titan Student Union Underground was similarly rambunctious with cheers and jeers as Titans watched the debate.
The evening’s questions started simply enough, with topics such as employment opportunities, gas prices, clean energy and taxes, but with candidates who were noticeably more lively compared to their first debate.
Both candidates fired back at one another, with Gov. Mitt Romney calling out President Barack Obama’s failed promises and the high rate of unemployment nationally.
When asked about the increasing prices and production of oil during Obama’s presidency, Romney said Obama’s policies have halted oil production on federal land.
“Let’s look at the president’s policies as opposed to the rhetoric because we’ve had four years of policies being played out,” said Romney. “As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land and gas production is down nine percent.”
But Obama answered Romney aggressively on several occasions, accusing him of being mistaken or misinformed.
“There’s no doubt that world demands gone up and our production has gone up and we’re using oil more efficiently,” said Obama. “Very little of what Governor Romney just said is true.”
At the Pub, the crowd laughed and clapped during Obama’s more hostile moments, especially when the president mentioned such hot topics as Romney’s “47 percent” comments and proposed tax cuts for the rich.
Monica Dekany, a human services major, laughed at some of Romney’s claims and said much of what he said differed from some of his past claims.
“I found the debate entertaining because of the fact that every time Mitt Romney speaks, he contradicts himself,” said Dekany. “There are videotapes (and) transcripts of him saying one thing and then he gets on national television and says something completely different.”
After the debate concluded, Political Science Department chair and professor Stephen Stambough, Ph.D., and assistant political science professor Matthew Jarvis held a short panel, where they weighed in on the outcome of the debate.
Both Stambough and Jarvis agreed that both candidates had their strong points and weak points. Stambough said he thought Obama performed significantly better than in the first debate.
“(Obama) wasn’t asleep this time,” said Stambough. “He was more animated, feisty all of that… It was a little more like the VP debate, which was incredibly entertaining if nothing else.”
While Jarvis also agreed that Obama did a better job in this debate, he was still unsure of who could be considered the winner of the debate.
“I think Obama was definitely more aggressive,” said Jarvis. “I don’t necessarily trust myself on this stuff—I sat up here two weeks ago and said that I thought the first debate was boring… apparently I was wrong and everyone thought Romney’s aggressiveness served him well.”
While both candidates had their strong talking points, Stambough said he believes that both candidates both went off topic too much and that the CNN on-screen approval rating went down every time a candidate dodged a question.
“The weak part for both among those with the (approval rating dials) is anytime they moved away from the question and started attacking each other; it just tanked,” Stambough said.
With the election approaching next month, both candidates still have one more debate on Monday, which will focus on foreign policy.