Lander students participate in mock presidential debate

October 26, 2012
Mock Presidential Debate
Lander University political science students and faculty staged a mock presidential debate recently with students in the roles of President Obama, Governor Romney and panelists.
Political science students portraying Team Obama and Team Romney staged a mock presidential debate at Lander University on Tuesday, Oct. 9, an event that drew 500 spectators to Lander's Josephine B. Abney Cultural Center Auditorium.

The debate was sponsored by the American Democracy Project and featured 12 students in the presidential campaigns and elections class of assistant professor of political science Chad Kinsella.  Kinsella and assistant professor of political science Lucas McMillan were the debate moderators.

The event was patterned after actual televised presidential debates and included discussions of foreign policy and national security and domestic issues, and a town hall segment in which the debaters fielded questions submitted earlier by Lander students.

McMillan said the Lander audience was a bit lively. "I joked that our debate was certainly more exciting than the Oct. 3 discussion between the two presidential candidates."

Kinsella said the event went very well and that students had fun watching. "Both teams spent time pre-planning zingers which they fired at each other during the debate."

More importantly, he said, the participating students spent time researching policy issues to support their positions. Two students represented both President Obama and Governor Romney and others in Kinsella's class played roles in debate preparation and as panelists and timekeepers.

Lander is one of more than 250 participating colleges and universities in The American Democracy Project (ADP), which began in 2003 as an initiative of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in partnership with The New York Times. ADP's goal is to produce graduates who are committed to being active, involved citizens in their communities.

Next, Kinsella's students will be assigned to prepare a mock fundraising dinner for Obama and Romney as if the two candidates were actually coming to Greenwood. Kinsella said it will be a good hands-on experience because students will be responsible for all of the arrangements from soliciting donors to selecting a menu for the dinner. Deadline for presentation of the details is three weeks after the presidential election.