Students, professors look forward to Vice Presidential debate Thursday

By Chase Sanders

[email protected]

Even though the biggest boost in the polls went to Big Bird, the candidate who made him an item, Mitt Romney, is also reaping the benefits from the first Presidential debate.

In the most recent Pew Research poll, Romney is in a virtual tie at 46 percent with the president among registered voters, but edged ahead of President Barack Obama among likely voters carrying 49 percent to the president’s 45 percent.

Obama’s missteps in the first debate were saved by the cushion of unemployment numbers from last month, which fell from 8.3 percent to 7.8 percent.

This is the lowest unemployment has been in the past three years.

Richard Waterman, a UK political science professor, said that if the president’s campaign wants to rebound from his lackluster performance in the first debate in Denver last week, then Vice President Joe Biden will need to have a strong showing in Thursday’s vice presidential debate at Centre College in Danville, Ky.

“Biden has to reframe the debate,” he said. “He has to be clear on how what he is doing is helping America.”

Waterman pointed out that Biden is fully capable of helping Obama regain momentum through connecting with voters.

“Biden comes across as personable. He has a way of not being vicious when he speaks. He just needs to be conversational, and aggressive in a way that’s trusting,” Waterman said.

He noted that the GOP vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, has strengths of his own that could lead to a victory for the Romney campaign.

“Ryan has a strong connection with the conservative base,” he said. “He’s very aggressive and evasive.”

Waterman emphasized the fact that with 27 days until the Nov. 6 election, this vice presidential debate will be “another potential game-change moment” for either side.

He advises students who are watching the debates to listen with caution Thursday evening.

“Listen carefully to what people are saying, and watch after the debates to see if they’re telling the truth,” he said.

Assistant Director of the UK Center for English as a Second Language, Tina Durbin, and a number of students will be taking Waterman’s advice when they observe the debate in White Hall Classroom Building.

Durbin is hosting the event to help students interpret the issues discussed in the debate.

“The purpose of the program is to get our students to understand political process in the United States,” Durbin said.

Durbin and her students will be paying especially close attention to the foreign policy aspects of the debate.

“They’ll have the opportunity to have a dialogue with American students about the differences between their government and ours,” she said. “We’re hoping to engage the students in a conversation with how they view each other’s countries.”

Many of the UK students watching the vice presidential debate in White Hall will have crossed international borders to do so.

“There will be representation from 10 countries, including China, Iraq, Guatemala, Oman and Saudi Arabia,” Durbin said.

UK nursing senior Lindsey Trujillo also says she’ll be watching to see what Biden and Ryan have to say.

“I watched the last debate, and I would say Governor Romney was more assertive,” she said.

Trujillo is experienced with the voting process and understands the responsibility of being an engaged voter.

“I’ve voted once before in 2008, and I watched the debates then, too,” she said.

She is anxious to hear what the candidates have to say about their plans for America’s health-care system in the short and long term.

“I mean, they’re even laying off nurses these days,” she said.

She said it’s hard for college students to find time to vote with their busy schedules, but she encourages them to take time out to watch the debate at 8 p.m.

“It’s hard to turn on the news, because of all the studying we have as students,” she said. “It’s important that we be well informed voters, too, though.”