Republican debate reveals candidates strengths, weaknesses

The Etownian October 21, 2011 0

Ryan Sardenes, political columnist, shares his insights about past Republican debates.

Contemporary politics are as turbulent as ever. We are currently in an election season, which is in the context of a federal credit downgrade, the assassination of Osama bin Laden and a growing protest movement, Occupy Wall Street, sweeping the streets. From the national platform to the local platform, the political atmosphere is heating up, with local liberal cities in Pennsylvania not escaping the turmoil of the current political peril.

The Oct. 11 GOP debate highlighted some new faces in the Republican race. We witnessed a polished Mitt Romney, alongside boisterous Herman Cain and other GOP nominee potentials battling it out, answering questions from moderator Michael Bloomberg.

Herman Cain, potential Republican nominee, spent the night preaching his philosophy of simplicity, referring to his 9-9-9 plan, which advocates for 9% personal income tax, 9% corporate income tax, and 9% sales tax. He was heavily scrutinized by fellow campaigner Mitt Romney, who said that the U.S.’ complicated economic issues dictate a more thought-out plan, which he believes to be his 59-point job plan.

Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the house and current GOP campaigner, fueled his arguments off of the anger of the Tea Party. Rather than attacking his fellow GOP opponents, he attacked the Obama administration.

Rick Perry took a different approach to the recent debate after one of his campaign team members deemed Mitt Romney’s religion, Mormonism, a “cult.” Perry was on the defense most of the night, making sure to appease all of the audience members. Michele Bachmann was one of Perry’s prime instigators, asking him questions such as “[Given your political history] can the American people trust you?”

Rick Santorum debated in style, poking jokes at all of his contemporaries. He stated, “When I first heard Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan I thought is was the price of a pizza.” He then questioned the crowd, “How many people will support the 9-9-9 plan?” When no one raised their hands, he continued, “That’s how many votes you’ll get.”

The political problems of the national stage extended over to the local arena, including Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Republican Senator John Vernon is unleashing a ruthless campaign on his competitor Bob Casey. Vernon says, “We must restore our economy and stop the runaway government spending.”

This interaction is an indication of the political climate, and of the President’s poor polling numbers. In 2008, Pennsylvania, according to the New York Times, gave President Obama 54.7 percent of its votes, yielding to him their 21 electoral votes. This may change in 2012.

However, according to, Pennsylvania has always been a swing state in national politics. This indicates Pennsylvania will be given extra attention in the upcoming election.

The college student is a prime demographic for candidates to target. President Obama championed over Pennsylvania’s 18-29 demographic, especially in cities like Lancaster and Harrisburg.

In the upcoming 2012 election the 18-29 demographic age range will again be one of the most sought after by the candidates. The rhetoric will undoubtedly continue to increase exponentially as election season draws closer.

President Obama has been under intense scrutiny from seemingly everyone across the national and local platforms. “I’m a fourth quarter player,” he stated in a press release, indicating his rhetoric has yet to be unleashed.

Obama’s current polling numbers are subpar, with many citing his approval rating as low as 40 percent, according to a recent Gallup poll. However, other polls by NBC News indicate that, even with his low poll numbers, he will be able to retain his seat in the Oval Office.

The diversity among polls is indicative of the ambiguity of the upcoming election. The numbers are constantly fluctuating, implying no clear victor. This early in the election season it is impossible, no matter how thorough the poll, to predict the public’s feelings on the actual voting day. Only time will reveal the clear winner on the local and national platforms. However, one thing is certain: Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey’s tenure in office may be cut short by his Republican competitor, a fate which could also befall Barack Obama in the future election.

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