Sunday, April 14, 2013

Radioactive: First Presidential Debates

Tonight, the first presidential debate was held at University of California at Berkely, and a majority of post debate polls show a victory for Biden. The prime focuses of this debate were foreign policy and the economy. Biden captialized on the current success of the Obama administration's economic policies, which have brought the unemployment rate down to 7.8%. Ayotte made strong points about decreasing regulation and tax rates on the upper class and criticized the slowing economic growth of the last two years. Another critical point of the economic debate was Obamacare. It's policies have been controversial, with majority of people with yearly incomes of under $40,000 in support of it, but there has been a lot of corporate pressure to repeal it due to the numerous layoffs that have occured because of it. Biden reiterated his support for Obamacare, but emphasized a need to update the law. Ayotte wanted to repeal it entirely, calling it "a burden on the America's economy and its people".

The second portion of the debate was focused on foreign policy. It focused on the tough points of North Korea, Israel, Iraq, Iran, and Egypt. North Korea, not as much of an imminent threat since the period when it stepped up its rhetoric in mid 2013. Both candidates voiced their support for South Korea. Iran, who is still suspected of pursuing nuclear weapons, was deemed a state that needed to be firmly kept under control, while Biden said he was open to negotiation if they would allow themselves to become a more democratic state. Another issue was its neighbor, Iraq, which has had increasingly worsening human rights violations against Sunnis and Kurds under its Shia regime. Biden made it clear he did not want to intervene only two years after Obama funded pulling troops out of the Middle East and declared an end to the War on Terror, while Ayotte took a more interventionist stance and said she would support an independent Kurdistan if it wished to become so. A newer issue is Egypt, which has had increasing protests against President Mohamed Morsi's rule in the last year and has shown a large number of human rights violations. Biden and Ayotte held their respective views on Iraq with Egypt as well.

Today, the single VP debate of the election season was held at John Hopkins University. Polls clearly showed a victory for Huntsman at 61%. The debate started with economic issues, but quickly shifted to a heavier focus on social issues and foreign policy. Huntsman made a number of strong points regarding North Korea and Egypt that Gillibrand commented on, but made very few comebacks on. The social policy discussion was considerably more heated since Gillibrand was able to make a lot more comebacks. There was a more intense battle over gay marriage. Huntsman took a moderate position that advocated for civil unions, and wanted to leave full marriage to the states. Gillibrand made a strong call for legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide in response, which most people considered to be her high point of the debate. Some Democrats accused Gillibrand of being too soft and letting Huntsman walk over her. The first two debates have shown a slight shift in favor of the Republicans: Nevada and West Virginia turned from toss up to GOP lean and Iowa turned from a Democrat lean to a toss up. New Hampshire is also polling more solidly for Ayotte at 56%.

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