QU Democrats and Republicans debate presidential election issues

Mark Dipaola

In a mock political debate that took place in the cafeteria last Wednesday night, members of the QU Democrats and the QU Republicans represented different 2008 presidential candidates in discussing prominent issues in order to draw campus attention to the coming election.

The event, which began at 7 p.m., highlighted issues such as the on-going war in Iraq and immigration. Audience members were allowed the opportunity to fill out paper ballots at the debate’s conclusion, or vote online for their favorite candidate via Blackboard. The discussion was moderated by political science professors Sean Duffy and Scott McLean.

Portraying Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani, QU Republican Kevin Killion defended the decision to invade Iraq, stressing the need for U.S. foreign policy to focus on Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan in waging the war on terror.

“I don’t think it was a mistake for us to be in Iraq at all,” Killion said. “I think it’s absolutely unthinkable, that after 9/11, we would sit back and do nothing.”

Adam Horgan, who represented Republican candidate Mitt Romney, stated that although the decision to carry out the initial invasion was justified, the Bush administration did not consider the long term.

“I believe that our mistake in dealing with Iraq was that we did not have a plan for after we took down Saddam Hussein,” he said.

A combination of peace and diplomacy, Horgan said, needs to be implemented.

“We need to win the war on terror to keep our homeland safe,” he said.

On the QU Democrat side, Keith Bevacqua, who portrayed Democratic candidate Chris Dodd, criticized his Republican opponents and promised to withdraw troops from Iraq within 120 days after being elected to office.

“The remarks made by Mayor Guiliani and Governor Romney were troubling,” Bevacqua said. “The war in Iraq is creating enemies every single day that we’re there.”

Portraying Democratic candidate John Edwards, Nicholas Fazio echoed these sentiments, stating that the U.S. needs to cease all combat operations in Iraq by 2009, station troops in friendly states within the surrounding region and hand the responsibility of stabilization to the Iraqi government.

“I believe that we need to intensify the U.S. training of Iraq’s security forces,” Fazio said.

Conveying the views of Democratic frontrunner Hilary Clinton, Kate Taussig spoke out against the foreign policies of the Bush administration, promising to dramatically reduce troop levels and focus on protecting U.S. embassies.

“I want to end the war in Iraq,” she said. “I want to control carefully and responsibly, the withdrawal of our troops, our civilian employees, contractors who are there, and the Iraqi citizens who have supported us throughout this fight.”

Portraying Republican candidate John McCain, Steve Valenti refuted these claims.

“What Senator Clinton doesn’t understand is that presidents don’t lose wars, political parties don’t lose wars, nations lose wars,” Valenti said. “Nations have to live with the consequences of failure when we do not succeed.”

Also addressed was immigration, another hot button issue that is sure to affect the coming election.

Students representing the Republican side stressed the need to secure the borders and establish an effective identification system to keep track of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants who currently reside within the U.S.

Killion (as Giuliani) proposed the implementation of tamper proof identity cards, a more effective border fence, finger printing, and a Federal data base. Echoing these sentiments was Horgan.

“The illegal immigrants that are in this country hurt our economy, they take jobs away from Americans, and also do not pay taxes,” Horgan said.

The Democratic candidates were more sympathetic to the plight of illegal immigrants.

Representing John Edwards, Fazio expressed support for giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.

Bevacqua (as Dodd) stated that although he would not support driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, he believes that they should have healthcare.

“No matter where they come from, or who they are, they deserve the basic essentials,” he said. “And that includes healthcare.”

Nikki Therrien, who portrayed Democratic candidate Barack Obama, stressed the need for the U.S. to maintain its image as “a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants at the same time.”

“First, we need to make absolutely clear that this party is determined to check the flow of illegal immigrants into the country,” she said.

Students also touched on the candidates’ views regarding healthcare, abortion, education reform, the economy and government spending, and the environment.

McLean believes that the students accomplished their objectives, which were to “have a good time” and “debate these issues”.

“I think it went great,” said McLean. “They played their roles very well.”