October 16, 2012

The Battle of Bailey: Debate Between Rick Santorum and Howard Dean Draws Near

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As Howard Dean (D-Vt.) and Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) prepare to debate at Bailey Hall Thursday, campus politicos expressed hopes the two will steer students’ attention away from theatrics and toward discussion of political issues.

Dean, a former governor and a Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, and Santorum, a former senator of Pennsylvania who ran for president in 2012, will debate each other at an event organized by the Cornell Republicans and the Cornell Democrats. The theme of the debate is “The Role of Government in Free Society.”

Student politicos said they hope that the debate will increase political awareness on campus as Election Day approaches.

“I expect both Senator Santorum and Governor Dean will be engaging and informative,” said Jessica Reif ’14, chair of the Cornell Republicans. “The goal of our event is to spark political discussion leading up to the election.”

Echoing Reif’s sentiments, Jessie Palmer ’13, president of the Cornell Democrats, said the two organizations selected Dean and Santorum for the debate because they felt that the politicians would be able to spar well together.

“One of the reasons why we felt these two politicians would be good at debating each other is that [they] have debated each other in the past and have a good working relationship with each other,” Palmer said.

Given the fiery and often theatrical nature of political debates, Jevan Hutson ’16, a member of the Cornell Forensics Society, said he hopes Dean and Santorum will focus their attention on discussing the role of government, rather than launching personal attacks against one another.

Hutson said that political debates differ from most debates because they are often won by rhetoric, instead of by the substance of debaters’ arguments. Because Dean and Santorum’s debate will have little bearing on the electoral landscape, however, Hutson said he hopes that they will focus on the topics they are asked to discuss.

“I’m hoping for a legitimate, substantive debate, seeing as though … it isn’t an election, [so] nothing is really riding on it,” he said.

As the debate approaches, Reif and Palmer said they expect that Dean and Santorum will focus on their respective political parties’ stances on the economy.

Palmer added that she hopes Dean and Santorum will square off on the issue of health care on Thursday.

“I hope that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, will be discussed, as both debaters have raised concerns about this legislation,” Palmer said.

Reif said she hopes Santorum will discuss issues, such as the economy, that are relevant to college students.

Palmer expressed hope that Dean and Santorum will bring “honest and stimulating discourse” to the table, “as both candidates enjoy debating issues rather than partisan agendas.”

“I’m eager to see both address the community, as each debater has a strong personality and drive to engage with the public,” she said.

Hutson, however, said he is skeptical of how civil the two politicians, who he said each have “very strong” beliefs, will be toward each other.

“It could honestly be a giant mess of a debate, because they are very passionate people,” Hutson said. “I don’t know if they’re going to be cordial; they don’t have to play nice. Honestly, I want to bring popcorn.”

Original Author: Noah Tulsky

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