Presidential debate watch party on campus draws crowd

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 | 11:26 p.m. CDT; updated 10:47 a.m. CDT, Thursday, October 4, 2012
Both Democrats and Republicans gathered in groups Wednesday night to watch the first of three scheduled debates between the presidential candidates.

*Correction: Peter Mueser was misidentified in an earlier version of this story.

**Correction: Ben Warner was misidentified in an earlier version of this story.

COLUMBIA — A crowd of around 200 people came out to the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center on Wednesday night for a free watch party for the first presidential debate of the season between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

Tigers Against Partisan Politics, a new student organization, partnered with Associated Students of the University of Missouri to host the event with free food and drinks. The room was full, with many left standing and very few attendees leaving throughout the 90-minute debate.

While a few of the attendees were seen using their phones, most were attentively tuned to the screen projected on the center's multipurpose room screen. The two candidates exchanged arguments from their differences on creating jobs, how to tackle the federal deficit, health care and the mission of federal government, among other topics.

Following the debate, professors Mary Kay Blakely, Peter Mueser* and Ben Warner answered questions and gave feedback to those who stayed behind.

The first question asked by Blakely, an associate professor of magazine journalism, was if anyone changed their mind after this debate — though no one raised his or her hand.

Warner** agreed with the audience and said that post-debate, the race is most likely still a 49 percent to 47 percent race, with President Obama in the lead.

Warner** also answered a question addressing the correlation between debate performance and a November victory. Although there has been no verified correlation, he said there are cases in which debates might help with very close elections and give voters confidence to participate in the voting process. In general, he said, debates are important for "informing the electoral and celebrating democracy."

Sarah Hatfield, a senior at MU, said she plans to vote for Obama after this debate, citing Romney's "poor job" in the debate.

"(Romney) seemed unprepared," she said. "He couldn't think of ideas to back up his statements."

Stephen Painter, a senior at MU, said his views are shifting from Obama to Romney.

"But I'm still having to choose between the lesser of two evils," he said.

Supervising editor is Zach Murdock.

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Michael Williams October 4, 2012 | 9:11 a.m.

So far, the consensus appears to be that Romney won.

Jim Lehrer and the President's handlers are apparently to blame.

I bet the next debate is a doosy, assuming the President really wants to be there.

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