Presidential politics dominated the discussion at the political forum held in the University Center North on Thursday, Sept. 18.
The forum was sponsored by the IUS Civil Liberties Union.
Joseph Wert, associate professor of political science, opened the forum by asking the audience if anyone was not registered to vote. He said the closeness of the presidential election highlights the importance of voting.
Wert showed the audience several slides from Internet Web sites, which presented how close the presidential race was.
One Web site, www.pollingreport.com, showed the presidential race a virtual tie, within the margin of error.
Another site, 270towin.com, showed the Electoral College math and how each state was leaning in the race between McCain and Obama.
Wert said the race was so tight, there is an outside possibility there could be a tie in the Electoral College, 269-269, when it takes 270 electoral votes to win.
Linda Gugin, professor of political science, said in such a case, the presidential race would be decided by the House of Representatives.
“The last time there was a tie like that was in 1800, between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr,” Thomas Wolf, professor of political science, said.
Members of the audience had the chance to ask questions or comment on the presidential race.
Rebecca Yeager, English writing junior, said the presidential race would have a definite bearing on who is selected as future justices for the Supreme Court.
Travis Schuster, music freshman, said if McCain wins, he will be pressured by conservatives to appoint justices with that viewpoint.
“I wonder if women realize that Roe v. Wade could be overturned if McCain wins,” Schuster asked.
Clifford Staten, dean of Social Sciences and professor of political science, said the gains or losses of Democrats in the Senate would determine the fate of nominated conservative justices.
“It would be difficult for a President McCain to get any Senate approval for very conservative justices if the Democrats increase their majority,” Staten said.
Chris Coyle, political science freshman, mentioned the closeness of the presidential race in Indiana.
“The Selzer and Company Poll, have McCain and Obama tied here,” Coyle said.
Gugin said this was very unusual for Indiana.
“The last time a Democratic presidential candidate carried Indiana was in 1964,” Gugin said.
Gugin also mentioned the Palin affect on the McCain candidacy.
“You’re really not seeing Hillary Clinton voters switching to McCain,” Gugin said. “It’s been mainly undecided Independent and Republican women switching to McCain.”
Peter Clark, political science senior and vice-president of the IUS Civil Liberties Union, wanted to know how much influence the president really has on the economy.
“The president actually has less influence on the economy than the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board,” Wert said.
Wolf blamed deregulation as a factor leading to the present state of the economy.
“McCain’s mantra has always been deregulate, deregulate,” Wolf said.
Gugin said that a president’s policies do have a result on the economy.
“President Clinton’s tax policies did have positive results on the economy during his administration,” Gugin said.
Jean Abshire, associate professor of political science, said examining what a candidate has done should be a criteria before voting.
Staten wanted to know how many in the audience were still undecided on who to support in the presidential race.
Aberlyn Sweetland, fine arts freshman, said she was still undecided.
“I would like to vote for an Independent candidate,” Sweetland said. “I like Obama’s personality but I’m closer to McCain on the issues.”
Abshire asked her what she thought about Sarah Palin as McCain’s vice-presidential pick.
“I liked his decision in picking Palin,” Sweetland said.
Wolf said that Palin is unqualified to be vice-president. He criticized her performance on the ABC-TV Charles Gibson interview.
Gugin questioned Palin’s response when asked by a woman what her skills were.
“Palin didn’t have an answer for her,” Gugin said.
Concerning issues relating to the economy, Schuster asked about free-trade agreements like NAFTA.
“Why hasn’t McCain been hurt more because of his support of free-trade agreements which have caused job loss,” he asked.
Staten said the decline in union membership throughout the country is probably why this hasn’t been a larger issue.
“This is a big issue for union members,” Staten said. “But unions are not the size they use to be.”
Wolf said the growing size of the national deficit is something that is not being addressed in this presidential campaign.
“This is something our children and grandchildren will be paying for,” he said.
Abshire said the big elephant in the room no one is talking about, is the race factor.
“Most people will not admit to a pollster, if they are affected by race before voting,” she said.
Another issue discussed, was the amount of money it takes to run a major party presidential campaign. Every four years it becomes more expensive.
“This presidential campaign will cost more than one billion dollars,” Wert said.
By RICHARD CLARK