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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Brandeis Democrats and Tea Party hold mock debate

Published: November 18, 2011
Section: News

The lights were dimmed in Chum’s Coffeehouse Wednesday night as impersonators of Mitt Romney (Josh Nass ’14), Barack Obama (Russell Leibowitz ’14) and Michelle Bachmann (Mary-Alice Perdichizzi ’12) took center stage to discuss the economy, foreign policy and the Obama presidency in a debate hosted by the Brandeis College Democrats or ’Deis Dems.

The three students role-playing the politicians represented ’Deis Dems, Brandeis Libertarian-Conservative Union (BLCU) and The Brandeis Tea Party Nation.

“Being someone with any conservative views on this campus is a rarity, and I felt it to be important that … the views of a leading GOP candidate be heard and be known … They don’t have to necessarily be accepted, but they should be put out there and considered,” Nass said.

Jake Weiner ’13, president of ’Deis Dems, explained the purpose of the event as, “less about winning the debate and more about telling the truth,” also noting that “the point is to keep people informed.”

In a light-hearted mood, the three students sought to combine intellectual political discussion with humor. Charles Shu ’14, president of BLCU, said it was, “very rewarding to see that the atmosphere was amiable.”

Questions in the debate covered issues ranging from the role of the United States in the Middle East, to the role of the United States Department of Education, to which fictional characters the presidential candidates best embody.

Other topics for debate included the Occupy Wall Street movement and the recent overturn of Proposition 26 in Mississippi, a proposition that would have defined fertilized eggs as people. After the moderator asked questions of the candidates, audience members had an opportunity to ask questions as well and they focused on other popular issues in modern political debates, including the issue of illegal immigration as well as the debate over same-sex marriage.

The candidates also discussed the nation’s high unemployment and other economic woes. The question, “Given five minutes to fix the economy, what would you do?” produced answers telling of the candidates’ contrasting views.

Playing Bachmann, Perdichizzi cited the need for “more taxes” and “incentivizing the private sector,” while Leibowitz, playing Obama, mentioned how he “created 19 straight months of economic private sector growth” as well as “GDP growth every quarter for the last two years.” He also described how he would enact policies similar to his previous ones to spur economic growth.

Nass, playing Romney, said that “two out of every three jobs are created by private businesses” and added that the government should “give those business owners the ability to employ more people.”

The crowd’s initial reactions and applause favored Obama, but soon, after other students filled the room, each candidate had several supporters and received applause at various junctures.

Charles Shu ’14 said this was the “first such political debate I’ve seen on campus thus far” and expressed an interest in viewing another debate. He predicted that as time moves closer to the 2012 election a “future debate will be more potent and will hold more sway over campus.”

Shu went on to say that he would suggest other Brandeis students take an interest in such debates if they do occur as they are “time well spent.”