Two teams represented Obama and Mitt Romney in the debate, arguing in place of the presidential candidates. After the debate, Team Obama claimed 69 percent of the 86 ballots cast.
The debaters took questions from the audience, including one man who asked about the Benghazi attack.
“Is there anything that could have been done to prevent this, and why has there been the cover-up that there’s been?” the man asked the debaters about the attack.
SPSU junior Tyler Maran, 20, a political science major who graduated from Creekview High School in Canton, took up the question for Team Romney.
“This attack was largely caused by a bureaucratic oversight, an idea that we did not need to have any sort of security forces in Benghazi,” Maran said. “Our embassies were left open in a country that according to Barack Obama has nothing but peaceful intentions for us. However you had these radical militia groups who still endanger U.S. citizens overseas, and were I present I would take steps to ensure their security and put some form of security force in every single one of these embassies overseas.
“The cover-up was absurd. I think the president needs to come out and explain to the United States people what exactly happened instead of trying to put it off until the election. This was a terrorist attack on our population that was not spontaneous. It was not caused by some video. This was planned in advance, and these people were attacking our embassies and killing American citizens.”
SPSU senior Teya Henry, 40, of Marietta, a nontraditional student majoring in international studies, took up the question for Team Obama.
“One of the reasons why the Obama administration took as long as it did to respond was because all of the information at the time had not been presented, and the Obama administration wanted to make sure that they had all the facts in line before expressing an opinion about the situation,” Henry said. “That being said, regarding Benghazi, there is a need to continue to build relationships within the community, within the borders, because in this way we will be able to tighten the bond between the U.S. and the citizens. Even if the government itself is weak, we will have a better relationship from the inside out that will hopefully be able to build and strengthen the government.”
Maran asked Henry if she thought a strategy of waiting until all the facts were in would work.
“If you keep this up, if we don’t enact some sort of preliminary action or preliminary security to protect our forces, then we’re going to have this same situation over and over again,” Maran said. “The time to respond is not after we’re attacked, but before. I think that we need some form of security forces to protect our interests in overseas nations, especially where there are threats of these terrorists or militia groups.”
Henry spoke of the benefits of diplomacy.
“When it come to using military force every time … you create a very negative cycle that unfortunately takes away from what we’re trying to build as far as our foreign diplomacy,” she said. “What you’ve got to do is strengthen the relationships that you have with the community.”
SPSU senior Origen Monsanto, 21, a Marietta High School graduate majoring in international studies, made the closing argument for Team Obama.
“Four years ago, our banks were failing,” Monsanto said. “Our auto industry was in shambles. Many Americans were being kicked out of their homes, unemployment was above 9 percent, and let’s not forget to mention that we were in two unpopular wars.”
Now, he said, the country’s alliances are the strongest they’ve ever been, with Obama positioning the nation to rebuild it. Since Obama came to office, unemployment has dropped, the auto industry is profitable and taxes for the middle class are at a 30-year low, he said.
“We have lifted barriers for economic growth, which will allow more people access to money and the opportunities to build their growth in the economy,” he said.
The Marietta High School graduate argued that oil production is up, that Americans are more energy-independent than in the past three decades and that schools are better.
“Many of you in the audience have benefited from the Obama administration’s act by doubling the amount of Pell grant funding,” he said. “We’ve also created a student debt repayment assistance program to help those who are in debt to the government by working out ways to either shorten the loan or to provide extra time for it. The American Affordable Care Act has allowed millions of Americans the opportunity to access health care that they once weren’t able to access. Bin Laden is dead, as we all know, and our troops are coming home and back to a land where they’re welcome and they will be treated right. We have increased border agents on our borders, and we are at an all-time high of protection against any foreign securities against our agents. With that being said, illegal immigration is at an all-time low.”
Team Romney’s Maran gave the closing statement for his side, pointing to the hardships people have endured over the last four years under Obama’s reform policies.
“These have come at the cost of a soaring national debt and increased tax burden on our people,” Maran said. “We have 10 million more people on food stamps since Obama has taken office. We have this constantly increasing trade deficit with China, we have increased the national deficit and national debt. Americans know that we need to get the economy going and if we continue in the direction that Barack Obama is taking us, we’ll see ourselves at $22 trillion debt by 2016, decline in take-home pay and increase in our welfare citizens.”
Romney’s goal is to reduce the number of people on welfare through growing the economy, Maran said.
“We need to provide an economy in which people can get the jobs that they need, and to do that we need a president who can work across aisles,” he said. “We don’t need to see the same gridlock that we’ve seen in Congress for the last four years.”
As governor, Romney had to work with a state legislature that was 87 percent Democrats.
“I know how to go across aisles and shake hands and we need to bring that to Washington,” he said. “Look, this is a free and prosperous nation, and that is what we need to show the world, and that can’t be done without having a strong leader.”
SPSU senior Tsvetelina Chahova, 24, of Acworth, an international studies major who intends to vote for Obama, said after the debate that Team Obama won.
“The Obama team was much more competent and defended their arguments much stronger than the Romney team,” she said.
SPSU freshman Jerry Floyd, 21, an international studies major, said he too intends to vote for Obama although both sides did well in the debate.
“The Obama team had better points throughout, but the Romney team had better closing statements,” he said.