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U. Missouri Student Political Groups Debate Issues In Presidential Race

This story was written by Grace Meiners, The Maneater

University of Missouri campus political groups clashed in a debate on Tuesday night, arguing the positions of the national-level candidates of their respective parties.

The Legion of Black Collegians, along with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and Omega Psi Phi fraternity sponsored the debate, which was slated to include representatives from the MU College Republicans and College Democrats.

However, three hours before the event, LBC Political Chairman Kevin Anderson received a Facebook message asking if a representative from the MU Campus Libertarians could also participate.

I received an e-mail around 5 p.m. from someone who had been told by a random person on the street that this debate was being held tonight by the LBC, Campus Libertarians member Carl Werner said.

Werner was eventually added to the debate.

They were very much open to having us, Werner said.

MU Vice President Brian Roach and President Caitlin Ellis argued the positions of Democratic candidate Barack Obama. MU College Republicans member Henry Atkinson represented Republican candidate John McCain, and Werner represented Libertarian candidate Bob Barr.

Rickey Leathers of Alpha Phi Alpha facilitated the debate in Allen Auditorium. About 50 students attended.

Anderson said the questions asked of the representatives were similar to questions asked in the recent presidential debates.

The first question asked how the economic bailout affects citizens and why their respective candidates were the best to handle the situation.

Atkinson and Werner both said the crisis was caused by too much government interference in the economy. Atkinson said the bailout was necessary, but he didnt want so much regulation.

That kind of government intervention is frightening, Atkinson said.

Roach disagreed and said the crisis was caused by the past eight years of deregulation and crony-istic policies.

Folks on Wall Street run wild while folks on Main Street are feeling the pain, he said.

Werner and Roach both said the No Child Left Behind education policy is unrealistic, while Atkinson said the policy has brought tougher standards to schools. Atkinson noted that one of the policys difficulties is that it forces schools to meet all requirements in order to be considered adequate.

The representatives also addressed the war and how their candidates would handle it.

You have to watch out for the security of the country, Atkinson said, adding that the troop surge made amazing progress" in Iraq and that McCain has a wide range of experience with diplomacy.

Werner said a case for staying in Iraq doesnt exist.

The Iraqis dont want us to be there. Americans dont want us to be there, Werner said. For the life of me I cant understand why were still there.

Ellis said Obama advocates a phased withdrawal.

You cant figure out how to stand on your own two feet if someone is holding you up the whole time, she said.