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Mock debate provides twist for Fort Hays students




Wednesday evening was a good night for the Democratic party at the 2012 Mock Presidential Debate in the Robbins Center on the Fort Hays State University campus.

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Wednesday evening was a good night for the Democratic party at the 2012 Mock Presidential Debate in the Robbins Center on the Fort Hays State University campus.

The debate, a service learning project for Fort Hays State University's POLS 403 The Presidency class students, featured well-prepared and researched points from each of the three candidates, but it was easy to see mock Democratic candidate Mike Goodrow's performance stood out.

While each candidate chose to rebut and restate stances often, Goodrow did so the most.

He said his strategy was to keep re-emphasizing important stances, hopefully convincing the audience members to embrace his view on topics.

"I had fun," he said after the debate. "I didn't have as much rebuttals against me, so I didn't have to defend myself as much, so that made it kind of easier."

Goodrow, along with Marcus Davis, mock Republican candidate, and Jonathan Lohmann, mock independent candidate, debated several hot button topics as the trio was guided by mock moderator Austin Eickhoff.

Topics during the debate included immigration, debt, the economy, unemployment, the attack of the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, and more.

Of the many topics presented throughout the debate, the first was the federal budget deficit.

"Well, the deficit is horrendous, it's huge, it's growing, and that is why I believe that we have to have a balanced approach in regards to the deficit," Goodrow said. "What I believe is that we should let the Bush era tax cuts expire, which will put the wealthiest Americans back to the tax rates that were held during the Clinton administration, in which our economy was doing really well."

Goodrow went on to say corporate tax cuts are needed. As a result of the cuts, Goodrow said American corporations will have incentive to stay within the United States. He said this is better for the economy as a result of it creating more jobs and tax revenue, thus limiting the deficit.

Davis agreed, expanding on the point with his own vision.

"What we need is the right size federal government," Davis said. "We don't need to bring in more revenue to pay for more spending. We need to take the amount of revenue we have and decide our spending levels off of that."

Lohmann agreed with the cuts as well, and added the U.S. military budget, which is approximately $700 billion, could undergo cuts.

"We can cut that in half and still be the largest military in the world," he said.

Another important topic among many discussed was the Affordable Health Care Act.

The topic yielded hot and cold responses from the candidates.

Goodrow said the act offers benefits to college-aged students and young people who might not be able to acquire insurance due to being employed part-time because they are allowed to remain on their parents insurance until age 26.

Goodrow also explained the act offers people coverage and a means of preventive care, which could lower emergency room costs and save money.

Davis then expressed his vision.

"What we need to do is give flexibility to states to design their own programs," Davis said. "We need to give consumers more choices so that prices drop, so there is more competition by allowing insurance companies to sell insurance across state lines."

Each candidate was granted one minute and 40 seconds to deliver an answer on a topic and after each candidate finished their response, candidates could choose to rebut.

Rebuttal time was one minute, unless two candidates wanted rebuttal, then the time was split between the two.

Chapman Rackaway, associate professor of the Department of Political Science at FHSU and teacher of the class, said the rules of the debate were not set standards but were negotiated.

"I asked the students to negotiate the rules amongst themselves, because that is what the bipartisan commission on presidential debates does with the candidate campaigns," Rackaway said. "They come up with a memorandum of agreement that specifies what the rules are."

Rackaway said he was pleased with all the students, saying they "performed their roles admirably."

Some mock candidates already were thinking of what they could do different.

Goodrow said if he would participate in a similar event again, he would try to tone down the amount of memorized specifics and focus more on presenting the information in a general manner, so the information is clear and concise.

The debate was followed by a spin room, where media could pose questions about the debate or candidates positions on certain topics to the candidates' campaign staff.

Rackaway said he was impressed with students, their preparation and the mock debate.

"I am really pleased with how well they did," he said. "I hope that they took a lot away from the learning experience."