Two former members of the Obama and Bush administrations roughed it out in a pre-presidential debate last week. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove met at Adams Playhouse on October 11. They sat on stage, Rove sporting a yellow, spotted tie and Gibbs a purple one, with a small table separating them.
The two began by discussing the first debate at the University of Denver and how it was “game changing.” Gibbs quickly jumped in to explain that he felt Romney’s performance was just a performance. The audience, comprised mostly of elderly citizens, liberal students and a very boisterous group of Republican students, let out a chuckle at the comment. He went on to discuss the differences between salesmanship versus leadership. Rove, known widely for being an exceptionally good salesman countered with the idea that the polls would not have shown Romney winning 70 to 20 if he did not come off as practical, sensible and genuine.
The discussion touched upon topics of middle class poverty, campaign processes, the personality of states, transparency, and personal stories. Overall, at most points the debate was lighthearted, and a lot of jokes were passed between the two. Gibbs came off as personable, genuine and shared lots of individual stories, whereas Rove generally threw out numbers and appeared more business-like with a “let’s be real” type of persona.
Towards the end, they discussed education and both agreed that it is important. Gibbs talked about the idea that a shocking percentage of 60% of students who take the SATs are deemed not ready for college level work once they graduate from high school. He stressed that it is detrimental to our stance as a country that is supposed to be the world’s example and that reform must happen in the K-12 grades. Gibbs said if students are working hard to go to college, they deserve their well-earned chance to go, whether they’re able to afford it or not. Rove agreed on the importance, but also hesitantly touched upon the fact that there are things we must take care of first and then move to address the education problem.
After the debate, both men answered questions from the audience. Rove jumped to answer most of the questions first, stating this is affecting our lives in a deep fashion, particularly our generation.
“Young people are going to be saddled with debt if we don’t restrain spending; they’re already generating the effects of economic policies that are generating only anemic growth,” Rove said.
Over half of all college graduates are being forced to move in with their parents temporarily, to delay the start of their careers but to take whatever jobs will put money on the table.”
He pushed further to say that we need to open our eyes and ask ourselves if what is being implemented is really working.
He ended his answer by commenting on kids’ apathetic attitudes, stating, “You’re going to be affected by this whether you like it or not. Whether you get a job, start your career, buy a home, go to grad school and shoulder the debt that is being left for you, is all going to be determined by this election, so get involved—there are plenty of opportunities to do so.”
Gibbs paid careful attention to Roves’ answer, waiting his turn while his counterpart’s answers produced a series of discreet smirks and scoffs on his face.
“Get involved, reach out to your friends, go on your Facebook’s and spread what you believe. Look—you have a lot at stake. Understand they don’t send 41-year olds to Afghanistan,” Gibbs said. “I have no doubt, whether it is making college cheaper and more affordable and able to borrow money at a cheaper rate, or whether we’re raising the standards for K-12, that Obama is the better choice.”
He ended his answer with a comment that may hit home with many students: “I mean, Mitt Romney’s plan for college education is telling kids to walk in and ask their parents for that money. That’s not an option. If a kid is asking the question of ‘How am I going to pay for college’ I’m sure they’ve exhausted that option a long, long time ago.”
It is the future of college kids everywhere that this vote affects. So take Roves’ and Gibbs’ advice and use the opportunity Hofstra is giving the community to get involved and pay attention to the outcome and issues touched on in the debate.