Americans divided on campaign outlook

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by Kellie Rowe

Kevin Pierfelice gets a kick out of the presidential campaigns.

As the Michigan State University economics senior watched the final presidential debate regarding foreign policy Monday evening, he found himself getting more and more amused.

“They say one thing and most of the time it’s a flipflop from a position from a while ago, which would be the Romney strategy,” he said. “On the other hand, Obama provided not a single new piece of strategy for the next four years. It’s interesting to watch them go back and forth.”

And Pierfelice is not alone in his opinion. As the election draws closer and closer, followers are divided in how they feel about the political race.

According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press between Oct. 18-21, 63 percent of 1,005 adults surveyed stated they felt the campaign is interesting and 59 percent felt it is informative, while 55 percent felt it is too negative and 49 percent felt it is too long.

As millions of viewers tuned in for the final debate, feelings regarding the political campaign continued to evolve.

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology junior Jared Elenbaas, who identifies as Republican, said he fell in line with the 55 percent of those surveyed who stated the current status of the political campaign is too negative.

“Everything has become (about) what would hurt our country … instead of what will help the most,” he said. “The general attitude is extremely pessimistic, which is upsetting.”

Shortly into the debate Monday evening, Obama negatively addressed Romney’s support for sending more troops into Iraq.

“The — the challenge we have — I know you haven’t been in a position to actually execute foreign policy — but every time you’ve offered an opinion, you’ve been wrong,” Obama said. “You said we should have gone into Iraq, despite that fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction.”

Obama continued to attack Romney’s stances on a number of issues regarding Middle Eastern countries — a display which only added to Elenbaas’ negative outlook of the campaigns, he said.

Elenbaas said the candidates seems so polarized about “nearly every issue” that often times, Romney and Obama are arguing for the sake of arguing.

“Even when a candidate should agree with the other, he just takes the opposite stance because he doesn’t want to be associated with the other side at all,” he said.

Shortly after Obama’s comments regarding Iraq, Romney addressed the president’s behavior, furthering the negativity of the debate.

“Attacking me is not an agenda,” Romney said. “Attacking me is not talking about how we’re going to deal with the challenges that exist in the Middle East, and take advantage of the opportunity there, and stem the tide of this violence.”

As for the content of the debate, Pierfelice said he felt both sides “ranted about the same issues in different words.”

Although he identifies as a Democrat, Pierfelice said he felt Romney had one truth about the president: he hasn’t done the best job of being a leader. That fact aside, he said he felt Obama as done the “best job possible” when it came to restoring the economic disaster former president George W. Bush left behind.

“Obama showed a strong character in the debate against Romney, who I believe will throw us into another war but increasing our military budget, where we are throwing our (GDP, or real money) away with little no return,” he said.

For Pierfelice, he said he wouldn’t mind a change in debate style between the candidates to increase informativity and the level of interest among viewers. He suggested an alternative method: instead of discussing the same five topics for more than an hour, candidates should be given a few scenarios and four hours to figure out a solution with their advisors.

“After the time period they will show their method of solution,” Pierfelice said. “That way (the public) can see them work on their feet.”

But among the feelings of negativity regarding the current status of the political battles before election day, perhaps the biggest reminder of the importance finding the best possible leader of the free world came from CBS News’ Bob Schieffer of CBS News, as he reminded audiences the debate landed on the 50th anniversary of the day President Kennedy said the Soviet Union had installed nuclear missiles in Cuba.

“It was perhaps the closest we’ve ever come to nuclear war,” he said. “And it is a sobering reminder that every president faces at some point an unexpected threat to our national security from abroad.”

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