By Michael Freeman, Managing Editor
Nearly three dozen students attended a presidential debatewatching party in The Grove apartment clubhouse Wednesday night, sparking student cheers and jeers, but few changed minds. As the final debate between Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama got under way, the students intently watched while quietly eating pizza from Little Caesars, chips and cake, all of which were provided by The Grove and both the ACU College Democrats and ACU Young Republicans.
“I was a little surprised with how many people were interested. It was a good turnout,” said Shannon Martin, senior family studies from Harlem, N.Y. “I was impressed by their composure and attitudes. There were some chuckles and remarks, but everyone was really tasteful with it.”
Students kept their eyes focused on the two flat-screen televisions in the clubhouse during the first half of the debate. Although the majority was Obama supporters, students did occasionally guffaw at both of the candidates’ answers, especially as McCain and Obama mentioned ‘Joe the Plumber’ more than 20 times during the debate.
“I think the main point of this debate was to win over independent voters,” said Brandon Coombes, sophomore engineering science major from Fort Worth, who said he supports Obama. “And what independent voters don’t like is attacks, and I think John Mc-Cain definitely came out on the attack. Obama always kept his cool as he has done in all of the other debates, and I think that really helped him.”
Most of the students reacted to McCain’s sharp remarks and Obama’s clever comebacks. Students laughed when Obama mentioned that even FOX News disputes claims on his voting record and booed when McCain referred to his opponent’s negative television ads airing as he watched the Arizona Cardinals defeat the Dallas Cowboys Sunday.
“I don’t agree with the Republicans on everything; I don’t agree with the Democrats on everything,” said Jordan Hancock, junior political science major from Abilene and president of the Young Republicans. “But to me, being president involves being commander-nchief over the military. And I think John McCain, having been in the military, would be a much bette r commander- nchief than Mr. Obama.”
About an hour into the debate, some students began talking. Some of the conversations dealt with politics, while others did not, but the discourse remained civil.
“I thought it’d be pretty cool to watch it in a group environment, especially with Republicans and Democrats together,” said Courtney Goodich, sophomore biology major from Fort Worth.
Students will have a chance to react to Wednesday’s debate with their votes next week. An early voting team will come to campus Monday, and registered students will be able to vote in the Campus Center from 10 a.m. to noon. Monday’s early voting will be the only on-campus voting opportunity before the election on Nov. 4.