Catherine Couretas

Thad Boggs and other College Republicans face off against College Democrats in a presidential politics debate Thursday.

Two minutes to respond. One minute for rebuttal.

That’s the time representatives from Miami University College Republicans and College Democrats had to explain their candidates stances Thursday night. Representatives from the organizations debated between Stoddard and Elliott halls Thursday, in front of a predominantly Democratic crowd.

In his opening statement, Jason Persinger of College Republicans said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will help turn the United States around with his ability to work on bipartisan terms.

“We need someone who has been in the system, but not defined by the system,” Persinger said. “Someone with the willingness to work across all lines.”

On the other hand, Aaron Turner of College Democrats said Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has a better outlook for the country.

“He’s got a vision for a better America (that) John McCain and George W. Bush (don’t) have,” Turner said of Obama.

Student moderators Jonathan Gair, Bobby Pierce and Leo Nayfeld provided the topics for the debate.

One of the questions that received the most response dealt with alternative energy.

“We need to work on increasing renewable and alternative energies,” said Thad Boggs, of College Republicans. “John McCain is committed to that. We’re not going to continue to sit on the resources we have. We need to open continental shelf drilling.”

In his response, Turner pushed the idea of energy independence.

“Initially, Obama wasn’t for offshore drilling,” Turner said. “Now he’s supporting offshore drilling because the American people want it. Jobs will be created by our country investing in alternative fuels. We need to invest in alternative sources so that when something happens in the Middle East, (it) doesn’t affect us.”

When asked what candidates would do about the War on Terror, both groups agreed Pakistan was not part of the problem.

“Obama realizes the war in Iraq was not about terrorism,” said Sean Wright, of College Democrats. “He urges Pakistan to assist us, and we need to shift from Iraq over to Afghanistan.”

Boggs spoke more specifically about fighting Osama bin Laden.

“We’re not going to invade Pakistan,” Boggs said. “McCain has said that (he) will follow Osama to the gates of hell.”

On the topic of genocide in Darfur and crises in other countries, Boggs said he’s not sure a military solution would be McCain’s choice, but the situation is a priority for the potential president.

“We need to take more action as a country,” Boggs said. “We need to work with our allies to do that.”

Turner said Obama would reassert U.S. leadership, and do everything within reasonable means to stop the genocide in Darfur.

Health care sparked another heated reaction.

“McCain wants to make health care an individual decision and ownership issue,” Boggs said. “People will get a tax credit to purchase their own insurance. McCain wants to make health care portable from job to job and bring down health care premiums.”

Turner spoke for the College Democrats on Obama’s opinion.

“Obama believes that health care is not a privilege for the wealthy but a right for everyone to have,” Turner said. “Under Obama’s presidency, every American will be covered in one way or another.”

In lieu of closing statements, both parties were asked what a victory of a candidate means for Miami students.

“A victory for Senator McCain in the election would mean a lot for Miami students,” Boggs said. “Students will have the opportunity to go out and make a living for themselves. We’ll have a safer, more prosperous America.”

Persinger added, “McCain knows that kids like us need to be rewarded. He wants us to be able to do everything we can.”

College Democrats followed with what they believed Obama would do for America.

“Obama as president means a better future for us,” Turner said. “We’re going to have new jobs and the economy will be shifting to new technologies. Everyone will have health care no matter what. Our grandparents and parents will have social security no matter what, and our kids are going to have a great education.”