Candidates brush over education during debate, students say

By Amanda Riddle
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 7, 1996

The Associated Press
Arizona Daily Wildcat

President Clinton and Bob Dole shake hands before the presidential debate at the Bushnell Theater in Hartford, Conn. yesterday.


Students who watched last night's presidential debate in the Arizona Stadium Skybox said they wanted to hear more about education from the candidates.

The Debate Watch, sponsored by the Arizona Students' Association, allowed students the chance to view the exchange between Democratic President Clinton and Republican Bob Dole on televisions in the Presidential Skybox and discuss the debate afterwards. About 30 students attended the watch, which was being held for the first time at the University of Arizona.

Associated Students President Rhonda Wilson said she wanted to hear more about Dole's vision on education.

"We've had the opportunity, because Clinton is President, to hear about his views. I'm hoping in the next two debates, both candidates will talk more about education," she said.

One student said during the discussion that the candidates were arguing over how they want to spend the public's money and control their lives.

"No where in the Constitution does it give the federal government the right to control education," said Bret Rosson, operations management senior.

Rosson said he plans on voting for Harry Brown, a third party candidate.

"The other candidates go far beyond the bounds of the Constitution," he said.

The debate did touch on Dole's stance on eliminating the Department of Education. Instead of the current federal program, Dole said he would, if elected, favor Opportunity Scholarships. These, he said, would give low-income parents the same choices concerning education that other parents have.

Clinton responded that he thought it would be wrong to take federal money away from public schools. He felt that a private voucher program should be enacted at the local or state level. He repeated many times that 90 percent of American children are in public schools.

Another aspect of the debate mentioned during the Debate Watch discussion was the importance of the image the candidates were giving the public.

Many students said Clinton does well at public speaking while Dole comes off as more abrasive.

Dole mentioned that he would not make the candidates' health an issue and said that he would rather talk about his own strengths than Clinton, when he was asked what voters should have on their minds about Clinton.

In his closing statement, which Dole addressed to young people, he brought up the issue of the increasing drug use in America.

"There are more young people experimenting with drugs than before. If you care about the future of America and your future, just don't do it," Dole said.

In his closing statement, Clinton praised the progress he felt his office has made.

"America is stronger and more prosperous today than four years ago. Tonight I have laid out my plans to move forward even more."

ASA will be holding two more Debate Watches in the Presidential Skybox. The next will be when the vice-presidential candidates debate Wednesday. The last scheduled debate before the election is Oct. 16, when the two presidential candidates face off in a town hall format.

"I think there will be more interest in the last presidential debate. Hopefully it will be packed for the last one," said Jeff Schrade, ASA Task Force Director, who moderated the discussion after the Debate Watch last night.