Yesterday evening, the Georgetown University College Democrats and College Republicans hosted Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz (UT-3) and Democrat Congressman Russ Carnahan (MO-3) at a surrogate debate in view of the upcoming presidential elections.
In the opening remarks, Joe Vandegriff, President of the GU College Democrats, said the debate was organized “in the spirit of bi-partisanship, to hear these two campaign surrogates to discuss issues that really matter in this campaign.”
The debate featured a journalist panel with the presence of Laura Evans from Fox 5 News and Julie Davis from Bloomberg News, as well as a panel of students conformed by two independent voters and two representatives from The Hoya and the Georgetown Voice.
Evans started off the debate referring to the recently-leaked video of Romney criticizing the dependence of 47% of Americans on the government. Admitting Romney’s lack of eloquence, Congressman Chaffetz deviated the question to the increasing number of people on food stamps. Chaffetz also talked about Romney’s approach to taxing the most rich:
He is not interested in reducing the rates for those at the highest income levels; they’re gonna continue to pay that same share of the taxes that they have. We are not just one tax increase away from prosperity in this country.
However, later on in the debate, the Republican representative emphasized the fact that high corporate taxes are preventing companies such as Microsoft to promote economic growth in the country and create jobs for Americans.
Another prevailing topic in the debate was job creation and the current high rates of unemployment in the United States. Democrat Congressman Carnahan tackled the issue by admitting that growth has been slow, but pushing the blame to Congress. “We could have done better in Congress regarding job-creating measures.”
Criticizing Obama’s employment policies, Chaffetz offered a solution:
“One of the things that government Romney has advocated on day one is to approve the Keystone Pipeline. We should be energy independent in this country. April 1st, 1977 is when we created the Department of Energy because we were importing too much oil. Guess what? We are importing more oil than ever. That’s wrong. Approving Keystone Pipeline will put literally thousands of people back to work and we will start to achieve energy independence.”
The Obama administration rejected the Keystone XL project this past January.
When the Voice asked the Party representatives what their take was on the environmental impacts of natural resource extraction projects such as the Keystone Pipeline and hydraulic fracturing, both Congressmen agreed that these issues were not constantly touched upon during meetings. “I need to say, I’ve been with Mitt Romney in at least a hundred town hall meetings, at least a hundred different, and I have never heard a question and consequently never heard a response from Governor Romney specifically about fracturing,” Chaffetz said.
With regards to the proposed cut in Pell Grants presented in Paul Ryan’s budget, Chaffetz argued that Republicans are going to keep on providing financial help to students who want to pursue higher education. “The Democrats took this Pell Grant funding and shifted it into mandatory spending. We believe that this should be over the discretionary spending.” On the other hand, Carnahan defended the Obama administration’s plan to double funding for Pell Grants.
In the concluding remarks, both representatives emphasized the importance of students participating in elections and being involved in the conversation. Each Congressman emphasized the importance of voting for their respective presidential candidate. While Carnahan ended his speech talking about the importance of “working together to move this country forward,” Chaffetz concluded with a plug for Romney. “[Romney] cares about everyone. He cares about 100% of America.”
Photos by Larissa Ong