Oct 142004
Authors: Lila Hickey

The first of two debates between the College Republicans and the

Young Democrats was deemed a success Thursday night, with both

parties saying the most important point of the evening was student


“We want to see a more engaged campus,” said Stephanie Gibbs, a

sophomore political science major and Democrat.

Gibbs shared the Democrats’ podium with fellow sophomore

political science major Daniel Buck.

Republican debater John Biber, a senior agriculture business

major who shared debating duties with senior J.T. Davis, a criminal

justice major, agreed.

“Everyone hates to hear the opposite of the opinion that they

have, (but) the thing they hate most is not hearing that voice at

all,” he said.

The Democrats seemed to catch the Republicans off-guard early in

the debate, while discussing the training of Iraqis to assume

control of their own government. The Republicans claimed 125,000

Iraqis have undergone training as part of President George W.

Bush’s plan to turn control over to the Iraqis, but the Democrats

disagreed, citing articles that quote “internal Pentagon sources”

that put the number closer to 8,000.

When the Democrats requested attribution for the Republicans’

data, Davis and Biber did not produce a source.

Later, the Democrats seemed poised for a similar stumble, when

Gibbs was unable to find quotations refuting Davis’ claim that Sen.

John Kerry, if elected, would allow other nations to veto the

United States’ right to go to war.

Davis noted that Kerry opposed the first Gulf War in 1992, and

suggested that the senator was too willing to cede to other

nations’ wishes.

“Obviously, there’s no global test high enough for John Kerry,”

Davis said.

Gibbs was unable to immediately respond to Davis’ accusations,

but eventually cited a remark from Kerry in one of the presidential


“He said, ‘no one has the right to pre-empt (the United

States),'” Gibbs said. “What he means by a global test is that we

need to be able to legitimize the actions we take afterwards.”

No winner was declared, in keeping with the debate’s informal

nature. Biber said the kind of scientific polling and screening

necessary to choose a winner were costly and impractical for a

college debate. He also noted that the majority of audience members

were firmly aligned with one of the groups, making an

audience-based decision unlikely.

“I would say that the College Republicans said everything

straightforward and quoted the president very well,” said Crystal

Korrey, a sophomore political science and religion major who

supports Bush and thought the Republicans won.

Toby Coffman, a junior finance major, was not so sure of a

winner, although he too plans to vote for Bush.

“On style, I think the Republicans were more calm, the Democrats

got kind of excited, but on the issues, it was about a tie,”

Coffman said.

Points raised by the Republicans included Kerry’s shifting

stance on the war in Iraq and his voting record, which the

Republicans criticized as being anti-defense.

Davis said he believed the senator’s voting record was

indicative of shifting stances.

“As policies change, his positions changes,” Davis said after

the debate. “He is a flip-flopper, and with all due respect, he’s

flip-flopped on more issues than just the war.”

The Democrats focused on Iraq, saying rebel attacks on coalition

forces were unabated and Iraq’s infrastructure was arguably worse

since the coalition invasion.

“How is it making it better, when you have raging bands of

insurgents decapitating people?” Buck asked.

Although the debate remained civil, speakers traded periodic

insults and some audience members scoffed audibly at the

oppositions’ remarks.

“Sorry, it’s going take a second, because we have to work with

facts on this side of the isle,” Buck said during a pause while

organizing his opening remarks.

The Republicans responded with jabs of their own. While

discussing possible weapons of mass destruction, Biber cited

international worry over Iraq’s weapons program.

“You may be familiar with Hans Blix,” he said dryly, when noting

United Nations’ concerns.

Audience members said they enjoyed the debate.

“I like this kind of thing,” said junior microbiology major

Michelle Keefer. “It amuses me.”

Another debate between the Young Democrats and the College

Republicans is scheduled for Oct. 25, the time and location has not

been determined.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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