Penn State Students Advocate Candidates' Stances

This story was written by Alan Delevie, Daily Collegian
With fewer than two weeks until the hotly contested Pennsylvania primary, representatives from student groups supporting the four presidential candidates will partake in a debate this evening to educate undecided voters.

The debate will be held from 9 to 10 p.m. in 100 Thomas, and admission is free of charge.

It will come at a time when Sen. Hillary Clinton's lead in the latest Quinnipiac University poll has dropped from nine points to six points in about a week.

Student groups set to attend include the College Republicans, the College Democrats, Penn State Students for Hillary, Penn State Students for Barack Obama and the College Libertarians. Pi Sigma Alpha, a political science honors fraternity, and Phi Beta Sigma will host the event.

The purpose of the debate is to "educate students on the differences of the candidates on public policy issues," said Suzanne Gold, a political science professor and moderator of the debate. "We don't have any room in this debate for personal attacks."

Candidates represented at the debate will be Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.; Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.; Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.

"The goal is to really just get the information out there," Sean Leonard, spokesman for Penn State Students for Hillary, said.

Leonard explained that the participants have been given the questions ahead of time so they can prepare 90-second responses. For each 90-second response, other participants will be able to make 30-second rebuttals.

Alex Weller, president of the College Libertarians, said he hopes "the students come out with a better understanding of the presidential candidates."

Alex Smith, chairman of the College Republicans, shared Weller's sentiment.

"It'll help inform the students about the presidential candidates," he said.

Samantha Miller, spokeswoman for the College Democrats, said the timing of this debate with respect to the election season might yield "interesting" results.

"From the Democratic perspective, it should be really interesting because there are going to be two Democrats represented," she said.

Mike Stewart, president of Penn State Students for Barack Obama, could not be reached as of press time yesterday.
© 2008 Daily Collegian via U-WIRE