Senate contenders square off on student issues today
Students will have the chance to engage in national politics at a town hall debate on campus today.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Stuart Starky, his opponent in the upcoming election for U.S. Senate, will square off today to conquer issues that effect college students.
The debate will be in Gallagher Theater at 4 p.m and will have a town hall format similar to the presidential debate in St. Louis last week.
The goal of the debate is to discuss issues that affect college students.
"Our goal is civic engagement. Students need to know all issues and they will get that opportunity," said Fernando Ascencio, speaker's board director of the Associated Students of Arizona.
The election for McCain's position is Nov. 2 because Sen. McCain's term ends in January 2005.
McCain is running for his fourth term in the Senate.
Ascencio said students recognize Sen. McCain's political status and thinks they will come to listen to him debate his opponent.
"People know and respect McCain's background," Ascencio said.
In 2000, McCain was a presidential nominee in the primary election for the Republican nomination. He spoke at the Republican National Convention two months ago.
Starky, a Democrat, teaches eighth grade in Phoenix. He has never before held a political office.
Three UA students will moderate the debate: Alistair Chapman, ASUA president, Andrew Record, head of KAMP radio and Caitlin Hall, editor in chief of the Arizona Daily Wildcat.
Each moderator will ask one question to each candidate.
"We've asked moderators to ask questions about student-related issues, but they are free to ask whatever they want," Ascencio said.
Chapman said his questions will revolve around higher education issues like tuition increases, financial aid and the state university reconstruction that was proposed by the Arizona Board of Regents.
The candidates will have two minutes to answer each question. The other candidate will have one minute to rebut. The first candidate will then have 30 seconds for a final response.
Audience members will also have the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the debate, Ascencio said.
He said before the debate begins, students can submit a question they would like to see addressed, and ASUA will randomly select a few of them.
Chapman said he thinks students will ask questions about Iraq, abortion and jobs, similar to presidential debate questions.
Ascencio said the debate is open to everyone and is free, but ASUA is especially urging students to attend.
Elected public officials who speak on campus are never paid to speak, so McCain and Starkey will not profit from speaking at the UA, Ascencio said.
Jeffrey Chimene, a spokesman for Starky's campaign, said Starky appeals to college students because he supports John Kerry in his plan for education. Kerry has talked about allowing students a free college education if they complete a certain number of hours of community service.
"(Starky) has a realistic plan for secondary education," Chimene said.
Chimene said Starky understands the value of education because he is a teacher, and college students need to feel secure in Arizona.
"Students can make a difference; they can get involved and can have control of the future," Chimene said.
Chimene said at the debate, Starky hopes to address other issues such as the war in Iraq, health care and border issues. Above all, he hopes to debunk McCain's image as a moderate conservative.
"McCain has been portrayed as a friend of Democrats, but this is clearly not the case when you look at his record," Chimene said.
The candidates are also scheduled to debate at NAU on Oct. 24.