By Tony Parra
There were no video cameras, no crowd of reporters, no analysts, however, debaters argued for President George W. Bush and presidential candidate John Kerry on Monday in the Becky Sharp Auditorium on the campus of Eastern New Mexico University.
College Republicans and Democrats of ENMU weighed in on the issues and tried to convince voters, in a tightly contested presidential race, to vote for their candidate in front of a crowd of approximately 30 people.
Rae Gross, an ENMU student debating for Kerry, said the average tuition for college students has increased 28 percent since Bush took office.
Bob Seyller, ENMU student debating for Bush, said the decision to increase the tuition is up to the state government not Bush and the federal government.
“It’s not something Bush can take care of,” Seyller said. “You can’t blame Bush for what the state does.”
Gross countered by saying Bush is responsible for the tuition increase, because there has been a recession during his tenure resulting in a decrease for funding for the federal government. Gross reasoned that the decrease has affected the state government, causing them to find funding elsewhere.
Gross stated another problem during the Bush regime has been health care.
“More than five million people have lost their health care under Bush,” Gross said. “Kerry is going to give businesses tax cuts so they could help with health care. It has been a horrible mishandling of Medicaid.”
John Ellis, an non-traditional ENMU student, said he knows all too well the problems with health care. Ellis, who brought his daughter, Katanna, a Portales High School freshman, to the debate said he and his wife struggle with health care costs.
“We need help with prescription drugs,” John Ellis said. “We (Ellis and his wife) have work study and take home $500 a month. My wife has a prescription which costs $400 a month. We wouldn’t be able to make it without the help of our family.”
Ellis also said Bush is the reason the economy is not doing so well and the reason both he and his wife lost their jobs.
Seyller said Bush has a plan to make prescription drugs affordable for senior citizens. Seyller said Bush’s plan will give money back to the patients and not the HMOs (Health Maintenance Organization).
The theme of the night, however, was gay marriage. There were less than ten questions to the candidates and four of them were regarding gay marriages.
Seyller said Bush is opposed to gay marriages, while Gross said Kerry is in favor of a civil union for gay couples.
“In my mind they should have a right to civil union,” Gross replied. “People had issues with civil rights. There’s no difference between civil rights and gay rights. We’re looking beyond color and to the sexuality.”
Seyller said Kerry is campaigning on the hopes of Americans for unrealistic plans and unspecified solutions to the problems.
“It seems to me he is offering false hopes,” Seyller said. “He’s banking on a wing and a prayer. He doesn’t have viable ideas.”
Candace Hale, the executive director of the College Democrats, said she and Seyller, who is the College Republicans President, have been working together on the project, according to an Oct. 5 PNT article.
Gross said she felt in previous elections, a person’s political affiliation would determine who they were going to vote for. She said that’s not true in this election.
“You see Republicans for Kerry,” Gross said. “I was hoping to put more doubt into those who are voting for Bush. If anything, I hope people are more interested in the election.”