Political discussion sparks conversation in UC Tuesday night

Andrew Kuhn/Staff Photographer Comstock Park sophomore and Vice Preseident of College Democrats Taylor Gehrcke, left, sits with Traverse City senior and Chair of College Republicans Megan Gill, right, while fielding health care questions from the audience Tuesday evening in the Bovee UC Auditorium. The discussion covered such topics as foreign policy, health care, immigrations, gay marriages, economics and energy.

The audience started to get heated on Tuesday night at the Political Discussion when the issue of women's health care was brought up.

The event, which featured members of the College Democrats and College Republicans, aimed to better inform students of each candidate's platform ahead of the Nov. 6 election. Program Board organized the event, which was held in the Bovee University Center Auditorium.

Taylor Gehrcke, vice president of the College Democrats, provided information on Barack Obama's campaign issues, while Megan Gill, chair of the College Republicans, shared Mitt Romney's campaign issues.

Both speakers covered six topics, including foreign policy, health care, immigration, same-sex marriage, economics and energy. The speakers were allowed 10 minutes to discuss the first two topics, and five minutes for the last four topics.

"Obama has a vision of achieving peace," said Gehrcke, a Comstock Park sophomore, during the foreign policy discussion.

During Gill's presentation of Romney's foreign policy plans, she explained Romney's objection with Obama's administration to the response of the attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya.

Romney would have acknowledged it as a terrorist attack earlier than the Obama administration did, the Traverse City senior said.

Gehrcke expressed the Obama administration's support for the revolutionists in Syria and Egypt, while Gill said Romney wants to keep Egypt as an ally and not start a war with Syria.

Although both speakers' candidates disagreed on several issues, there were a few topics in which they share the same opinion.

Both Romney and Obama agree the immigration laws in this country need to be strengthened, but they disagree on how to enforce these laws.

"Romney argues that we must protect our legal immigration," Gill said. "We have 4.5 million people waiting in line to gain citizenship."

Obama agrees that America needs to protect their legal immigration, but he also engages with the American Dream Act.

Gehrcke said the American Dream Act states children of undocumented parents can apply for citizenship if they are brought into the United States before they are 16.

Audience members and speakers alike agreed the way each candidate presented their plan to better the economy will be a major factor in the upcoming presidential election.

"I'd say for the upcoming election that Mitt Romney's strongest issue is the economy because he has a background in business, and that's what we need," Gill said.

Romney's plans for the economy include cutting individual taxes by 20 percent, and lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent.

Gill said the U.S. corporate tax rate is one of the highest in the world and makes the U.S. less competitive.

Obama's economic plans revolve around the middle class and intends to provide tax cuts for every middle class working family.

"That's what he stands for, is the middle class," Gehrcke said.

Gehrcke said Obama believes households that make more than $1 million should not pay less in taxes than a middle class family.

One audience member, Detroit junior Candace Grooms, agrees with the path America has taken the past four years.

"I agree with what Obama has done the last four years and I want to see more of it," Grooms said.

Overall, the audience was pleased with the conversation that the discussion brought.

"I was happy to see people that weren't afraid to hold back their opinions," Saginaw junior Henry Wolf said.

Other issues the audience expressed their differing views on included same-sex marriage, economics and energy.

Although the topics were of importance, Gehrcke said some could have been more relevant to college students.

"I always enjoy doing debates and discussions on campus because it's exciting to see students get involved, no matter what party they're part of," Gill said.