Lecture on strengths, weaknesses of presidential debate

Gabrielle Moreira

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Campaign strategists Greg Strimple and Chris Kofinis discussed the strengths and weaknesses of Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama Thursday night at a forum.

The Eugene Price Forum, named after the Eugene Price endowment that helped fund the event, took place in Whitsett Room on Sierra Hall’s roof. Lawrence Becker, chair of the political science department, moderated the 90-minute discussion between the speakers.

The main subject of the forum was how well presidential candidate Mitt Romney and incumbent Barack Obama fared during their first debate on Oct. 3.

“I can spin with the best of them,” Kofinis said. “But President Obama did not have a good night. Gov. Romney came in with a battle plan and won.”

Kofinis, who has worked with the likes of former Sen.John Edwards (D-SC) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), said this year’s election is more complex with the main focus being the economy. He said it’s what the majority of independent and undecided voters are worried about.

Strimple agreed with Kofinis and said there’s been a steady shift among economically inclined independent voters from support of Romney to Obama. Strimple explains the shift had to do with the Romney campaign’s lack of focus before Wednesday’s debate.

“There were two things Romney did well during the debate,” Strimple said. “He looked like a leader and showed he had a plan.”

Strimple has worked with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. John McCain in the past and told the crowd he even had the opportunity to try and convince Romney to run for Congress.

He went on to say Romney was charismatic, intelligent, and funny and that some of those traits showed in Wednesday’s debate.

Enrique Solis, a senior English major, was impressed by the openness of both speakers.

“It was interesting to have a behind the scenes look at what goes on in politics,” he said. “You don’t see this kind of discussion very often in the media.”

At the end of the forum one student asked both speakers if Obama will learn from his mistakes on the debate.

Kofinis said Obama’s campaign is aware that he needs to do well in the next debate and Strimple said Romney’s campaign should prepare to counter any potential comebacks.

Both speakers were also asked what their thoughts were on media coverage, or what some consider the media’s “liberal bias.”

Strimple and Kofinis agreed there can be bias in the media, but said the media’s main focus is to create a race between the two candidates, especially during an election that is focused on the economy.

“Politics is theater,” Kofinis said. “This debate resurrected what was considered a dead campaign.”