Obama debates Romney at DUHSPublished 10:06pm Tuesday, November 6, 2012
President Obama? She called Americans “mutts.”
Gov. Mitt Romney “wanted to hit her on that.”
Niles City Councilman Dan Vandenheede’s Union High law students, sophomore Sabrina Ruiz as Obama and senior Ben Thompson as Romney, Tuesday morning debated before a student audience of about 70 in the DUHS media center.
Neither can yet vote for real.
“I missed it by four months,” Thompson said, “but I’m politically active and an Obama supporter, so this was hard to do.”
“I know a lot of freshmen even who are into politics right now,” Ruiz said.
“It’s hard to stay energized for four years,” Thompson said of the 2012 youth vote compared to 2008. “In our school, I think it’s simmering underneath.”
Besides the half-hour debate moderated by Rachel McLaughlin, Vandenheede, a social studies teacher, said the school held a presidential vote during the students’ lunches.
“We felt like we wanted a town hall so students could ask questions, so I’m glad we did it at the end, but that was all improv — which was terrifying,” Thompson said.
McLaughlin posed nine questions to each candidate on U.S.-Iran relations, federal subsidy to develop alternative energy sources, the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, troops transitioning from military life, balancing defense and education spending, identifying new tax revenue, abortion, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, high college costs and, from the audience, immigration and the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act, the auto bailout (“Michigan would lose tons of jobs,” Ruiz said), high military spending affecting alliances such as the United Nations and NATO and leaving Afghanistan in 2014.
Ruiz said the United States wants to move beyond “sustained suspicion and mistrust” toward Iran without “interfering in its internal affairs. I want to build more relationships so we have less wars.”
“We should not make friends with a group that wants to kill us,” Thompson countered. “Obama failed the world by allowing Iran to get so close to having nuclear weapons. If they do, it will threaten the entire world. We need tougher sanctions to pressure the ayatollahs. We need to keep all military options on the table.”
“Romney” chalked up energy development as another Obama failure.
“A third of companies he funded failed,” Thompson argued. “We need renewable energy, but trust me, I’m a businessman. I turned Staples around with my Bain investments. I’m a job creator. The problem isn’t that schools don’t have enough money, we don’t have enough jobs. The Obama administration failed to work with Congress. He doesn’t reach out. He promised to bring unemployment down to 7.8 percent, and we’re at 9.8 percent. He’s not a strong leader. I am. I worked with both sides of the aisle in Massachusetts. I want to close income tax loopholes and take out wasteful spending, like Obamacare, where 12 unelected bureaucrats determine if you get what you need.”
“There are 7,000 Iowa jobs that depend on wind energy. My plan is to keep producing these so we don’t have more climate change. Romney may think these jobs are imaginary because his plan ends tax credits for wind energy producers, but we need more jobs we can get from renewable energy. It’s good for the planet and it’s good for the people.”
Then Ruiz took on the issue of immigration.
“This country was founded by immigrants. No one here is just white or European. We’re mutts, pretty much.”