The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


October 17, 2012

Bucknell professors: Both candidates did well in debate

LEWISBURG — Calling both participants in Tuesday night’s town hall presidential debate “feisty,” two Bucknell professors with expertise in domestic politics said Barack Obama and Mitt Romney acquitted themselves well while trading barbs aggressively in a lively 90-minute exchange of ideas

“I think both Obama and Romney were effective in making their cases for being elected,” said Christopher Ellis, assistant professor of political science. “But what I think was different this time is the president seemed much more engaged and passionate about the issues that he has stressed during the campaign. Romney, on the other hand, also did well in trying to hold the president accountable.”

Obama was far more effective this time out than in the first debate, added Scott R. Meinke, an associate professor of political science, who hosted a group viewing/discussion of the debate with about 30 students.

“The students were engaged and interested in the debate,” he said, but chose not to characterize their reactions to either candidate’s performance.

“I thought the president was more effective in substance and in making the case for his policies and against Governor Romney’s policies,” Meinke said.

Obama came out aggressively — perhaps overly so, Meinke said. “But he quickly grew more comfortable and I think he found the town hall format quite to his liking.”

That said, both Meinke and Ellis said that by no means did Romney do badly. “There were a few confrontational moments when Romney clashed with the moderator Candy Crowley, and that may not have played well,” Meinke said. “But we’ll just have to see. Romney did really well in the first debate and did not falter this time either. The big difference is that this time, he was challenged by Obama, which made for occasional fireworks and more than a few interruptions on both participants’ parts.”

Both Romney and Obama took some of the audience questions and quickly pivoted to their talking points, but Crowley was effective in moving them back on point.

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