U. Iowa Partisans Face Off In Debate

This story was written by Shawn Gude, The Daily Iowan

Gesticulating fervently, Greg Baker's zeal was obvious - and so was his position."We've got millions of gallons of oil waiting for us outside the Atlantic coast, and we don't drill. Why? I don't know," said Baker, his voice catapulting an octave higher at every word. "The Chinese are drilling our oil, and we're sitting here scratching our heads."

Baker, the chairman of the Iowa Federation of College Republicans, toed the "drill baby, drill" Republican line on that issue at a Thursday debate with University of Iowa Obama supporters in the Biology Building. He stressed the importance of using domestic drilling as a way to build a bridge to energy independence, while simultaneously developing alternative energy sources.

Focusing on four campaign issues -energy, the economy, health care, and education - members of Students for McCain and Hawkeyes for Obama contested each other's positions.

UI junior Whitney Carson, tasked with debating Baker, came back hitting.

"I wish I could say I was surprised by the 'drill baby, drill argument,' but that's old news to us Democrats," said Carson, arguing that oil is outdated, while renewable energy is forward-looking. "I wish you would've talked about something besides drilling, because you're just making this too easy for me."

During the hour-long debate, each debater was allotted a three-minute opening statement for each issue, which was followed by a two-minute rebuttal.

Energy debate aside, there was a notable lack of give-and-take in the three other topics discussed. Mostly, debaters only outlined their preferred candidate's position on a given issue, then offered general criticisms of the opposition's policy.

Mike Currie, a Students for McCain debater, argued that Obama's corporate tax hike on upper-income levels would be passed on to the consumer.

"If you decrease the tax on corporations, you decrease the expense of the product, which decreases the price - that's why lower taxes help Middle America," he said. "Raising taxes doesn't."

While discussing education, Caitlin Ross, a Hawkeyes for Obama member, said No Child Left Behind has many problems, especially inadequate funding.

"We can't rely on standardized tests to fund our schools," she said, who also argued that vouchers would lead to privatization and hurt low-income students. "It's irresponsible."

Opponent Sarah Milani touted McCain's plan to promote "choice, competition, and excellence" via private-school vouchers.

The core of the health-care debate focused on the government's role and whether small businesses would be adversely affected by Obama's health-care plan.

Emily Grieves, a member of Hawkeyes for Obama, said the event was an effort to display unity regardless of political leanings.

"I think students sometimes get really caught up in what's going on in the media," said the UI senior, who helped plan the event. "So it's good to have a venue where they feel it's fun, and cool, and they can actually learn about issues."