Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Students Stage Election Debate

By Mike Galas Hoya Staff Writer

Students supporting the Democratic, Republican and Green Party presidential candidates discussed a spectrum of issues ranging from health care reform to environmental protection in a 90-minute debate Wednesday evening in White-Gravenor.

Jake Klonoski (SFS ’02), Drew Courtney (SFS ’03), Tony Cani (COL ’02) and Gladys Cisneros (SFS ’04) represented Students for Gore; Andrew Maher (COL ’02) represented Students for Bush; and Bret Woellner (SFS ’04), Brandon Roche (COL ’02) and Nick Laskowski (COL ’03) spoke in favor of Green Party candidate Ralph Nader.

After presenting two-minute opening statements, each side outlined their respective candidate’s position on an array of issues.

Ralph Nader supporters said the United States has become entrenched in a two-party system, which cannot be considered truly democratic. They also expressed discontent because Nader was barred from the series of presidential debates held in the past few months. Nader supporters said Nader cared most about campaign finance reform, restraint of corporate power, universal health care, a living wage and fair trade.

Students for Gore said that while Vice President Al Gore and Nader appear to represent similar interests, Gore has received the endorsement of the AFL-CIO and will work toward public funding of congressional elections, universal health care and strengthening environmental protection laws. Gore supporters also differentiated their candidate from the Republican candidate, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, by pointing to the radically different Supreme Court appointees he would appoint, which would have a profound impact on issues such as abortion and gun control.

Maher, a Bush supporter, criticized Nader for being too extreme and Gore for lacking the leadership skills to lead the country into a new millennium. Maher said Bush will be a “uniter and not a divider,” and praised Bush’s proposed increase in the military budget, the use of faith-based institutions to increase social services and tax cut that would reduce taxes at all income brackets.

Each group was given several minutes to rebut the points made by their opponents: Students for Bush cited a poll that indicated 56 percent of Americans wanted a smaller government offering fewer services and said that Bush’s health care plan fits better with what American wants; the Nader team criticized the other two parties for simply discussing the issues, but never fighting for them; Gore supporters criticized Nader for stealing part of Gore’s constituent base that might hand Bush the election.

Among the key facts mentioned by the groups: less than 25 percent of Americans voted for Bill Clinton in 1996 because of a low voter turnout, only about 50 percent of Americans give Gore credit for the economy, 25 percent of eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 24 are projected to vote in 2000, Texas rates worst in the country in carcinogens in the air, women with health insurance and air quality, and if Ralph Nader is able to get 5 percent of the popular vote the Green Party will receive federal matching funds for future elections.

Rachel Ryckman (COL ’04), who watched the debate, said that the participants appeared prepared and that the audience appeared to enjoy themselves, especially when the debaters poked fun at each other’s candidates.

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