Candidates collide at final debate


U.S. presidential nominees John McCain and Barack Obama squared off for their third and final debate last night –– the focus of which centered on domestic policy and the current economic crisis.

The two met at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., while members of the University community looked on from television sets at the Eagleton Institute of Politics on Douglass campus during their ‘RU Voting? Student Debate Watch.'

"It's very important for people to understand the issues that they're voting for," said Aaron Rosenberg, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student. "I can't tell you how many people just seem to vote on a pretty face … or just personality for that matter. The thing is, personality is great, but it's important to see the role in government. You're electing someone to not entertain you, even though they may be, but to create public policy."

In regards to the economy, McCain said Americans are hurt and angry. He promised to balance the federal budget in four years, and proposed an across the board spending freeze.

"Nobody likes taxes ... but we've got to pay for the core investments that make this economy strong," Obama said.

McCain retorted, "Nobody likes taxes? Let's not raise taxes then."

Obama countered both he and McCain want to cut taxes, but his plan would cut taxes for 95 percent of American families –– more than McCain's plan. He said he wants to make sure CEOs are not getting richer, but rather provide the middle class with a rescue package.

The Illinois senator proposed focusing on jobs and ending the tax breaks for companies that are shipping employment overseas, while providing a tax credit for every company that's creating work in America.

He also advocated helping families making less than $200,000 right away by providing them a tax cut and access to their Individual Retirement Accounts without penalty if they're experiencing a crisis.

In many instances, McCain passed up the opportunity to ask Obama questions in favor of attacking his proposed policies.

While Obama explained his tax plan by saying it's better to lower taxes for Americans like "Joe the plumber" who make less money, McCain said he is trying to spread the wealth around.

"We're going to take Joe's money, give it to Sen. Obama and let him spread the wealth around," McCain said. "I want "Joe the plumber" to spread the wealth around. Why would you want to increase anybody's taxes right now? Why would you want to do that to anyone, anyone in America, when we have such a tough time?"

He said the premise behind Obama's plans is class warfare. He said he wants to support small businesses.

Rosenberg said one of his major concerns is the economy, and he plans to vote accordingly.

"Obama's plan for the economy –– he hasn't really given one, and I acknowledge that," he said. "But I'm scared to death of McCain's plan because it involves giving more money to big corporations."

Kyle Barry, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said while he is conservative, he is not completely convinced with McCain's policies.

"Personally I agree with more of a hands off approach, but both candidates support the bailout," he said. "I don't agree with McCain on every issue –– he leans moderate. [But] I think John McCain's tax cuts I agree with more."

Overall, organizers of the event hoped students could take away from the debates an idea of each candidate's ideals. Before the debate began, Elizabeth Matto, the organizer of the event, said it would be foolish for the candidates to focus on personal attacks, but she wouldn't be surprised if we saw a few attacks since they are close to the end of their campaigns.

"These candidates are interested in the undecided voters," she said. "It's been a very unpredictable election from the very beginning. This is their last opportunity to speak to the entire nation, so I wouldn't be surprised if they tried every campaign tactic there is."

–– Lauren Caruso contributed to this story


Rachel Gillett

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