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Students react to presidential debate

Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry far outnumbered President George W. Bush's supporters at two debate-viewing parties on campus Thursday night.

At a viewing party in Salomon 101 hosted by the Brown Democrats, the audience - which filled the lecture hall - consistently greeted Kerry's statements with applause; a small group of Bush fans cheered for the president throughout the 90-minute debate.

The debate, which focused on foreign policy, was the first of three match-ups between the candidates. This one was hosted at the University of Miami-Coral Gables.

A number of students said they were impressed with Kerry's performance.

"Although it eventually settled into equilibrium, Kerry's performance in the first half hour was so commanding that Bush could not have recovered," said Jesse Adams '07.

Some students said they were disturbed by what they saw as hypocrisy on the part of Bush.

Nathan Landers '08 said he found Bush's comment that "every life is precious" ironic in light of the American military's treatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

Kate Horning '07 said she thought Bush's performance validated the criticism he has received for lacking eloquence as a public speaker.

"I think it's a really good day to be a Democrat at Brown," she said. "The event made clear how inept Bush is at speaking and making the policy decisions we need our president to make."

But other students had mixed reactions to both candidates' performances.

"I think a lot of people were expecting a landslide, but both were strong in different areas. I think Kerry appeals more to college student bodies and intellectuals. George Bush's approach appeals more to the average American, and I think it's intentional that he does it that way," said Evan Pettyjohn '08.

Pettyjohn said Kerry often came across as esoteric, using words like "summit" that "probably don't resonate with average voters."

"Neither of (the candidates) have unifying themes on their foreign policy," said Phil Wood '07.

Sheila Dugan '07 wondered whether the debate will have much impact on voters' decisions in November. "I have a feeling that most people already know who they are voting for," she said.



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