October 16, 2000

Cornellians Debate Senate Race

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While both Senatorial candidates continued their campaigns throughout New York state this past weekend, Cornell student supporters of both First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and Congressman Rick Lazio gathered in the Memorial Room in the Straight last night to debate various political issues.

Approximately 50 students attended the debate moderated by Aron Goetzl ’01, editor-in-chief of The Sun. The Democratic side was represented by Mike Moschella ’02, president of Cornell Democrats and Thomas Leung ’02, coordinator for Students for Hillary. Supporting the Republican candidate was Graham Meli ’02, vice chair of Leaders for Lazio, and Dave Broderdorf ’04.

Similar to the nationally televised debates, each side answered an improptu question in accordance with specified time limits.

Clinton is an activist who will fight for equality, for an increase in funding education and to relieve the economic burden in upstate New York, according to Leung.

Broderdorf responded by claiming that Lazio is a proven leader who will “help the state that he has and always will call home.”

The first question posed by Goetzl focused around whether or not Clinton should be running in New York State for Senate.

“It shows her motives are not in the right place … she never lived here before and never had any vital interest in the state of New York,” Meli remarked.

In response, Moschella claimed that Hillary’s is motivated to help children, college students and upstate New York residents as opposed to Lazio who voted to cut $10.1 billion from college aid.

Another issue debated among the two parties concerned health care reform. Clinton’s 1993-1994 health care plan was a total failure, according to Meli. Lazio supports a “common sense approach” to medical care and favors prescription drug benefits, he added. The Democrats cited Clinton’s desire to pass a patient’s Bill of Rights which would extend Medicare coverage.

Goetzl asked both sides to comment on their candidates’ potential vote regarding the Roe vs. Wade abortion issue in the Supreme Court.

“Hillary Clinton is a strong supporter of a woman’s right to choose,” Moschella explained. “Abortions, if overturned, would go underground so they would not be safe but would still be occurring.

Lazio supports the pro-choice interests but is against partial birth abortion, according to Broderdorf.

The debate concluded with questions from the audience regarding topics such as campaign finance reform, recent conflicts in the Middle East and the death penalty.

“The participants were well informed about their candidates’ positions and they showed excellent debating skills,” said Michael Lane, vice chair of the Tompkins County Board of Representatives.

Archived article by Rachel Pessah