“I’m definitely watching the debate,of course. But I don’t know who isn’t,” said Melissa Walsh,17,a Hofstra student chanting with a pro-Obama crowd in front of the MSNBC stage.
President Barack Obama and former governor Mitt Romney are to meet in a town hall-style debate Tuesday night,the second of three in which the Democrat and the Republican will face each other before the election. On campus the afternoon of the debate,more students were rallying in favor of the president.
Alex Kuhlke,21,another student in the crowd,said Mitt Romney doesn’t care about her priority issues – funding for the arts,education and women’s rights.
“We’re all dancers,we’re big into the arts and we’re not fans of what Mitt Romney’s trying to do,” Kuhlke said.
Nicki Gyftopoulous,18,said Obama’s Affordable Care Act has given her family financial peace of mind.
“I disagree with a lot of Obama’s policies,but we’re all students,and we’re all going to have loans when we get out,” Gyftopoulous said. “We all need to find health insurance. Right now,under Obama’s policy,he’s kind of protecting us by adding us to our parents’ insurance. I appreciate that,and I feel that he’s trying his best.”
As a resident of Bethpage in Long Island,less than 10 miles from Hempstead,Kuhlke said having a presidential debate so close to home has a lot of significance to her. Overall,she feels Obama deserves another four years as president.
“He’s a lovely face for America,and I’d love to see that for a little bit longer,” she said.
Since the primary season,Jim Wilson,70,a retired insurance worker from Buckingham,Va.,has traveled to 42 states in his American flag-festooned truck handing out Romney signs and advocating for the candidate.
Wilson said Romney’s performance in the last debate gave him necessary momentum.
“That he did pretty great is kind of an understatement. The president never showed up,” Wilson said.
He said Obama’s prior tactic of “character assassination” won’t work on Romney.
“They’re finding that that dog won’t hunt. His personal life is clean,boringly clean – so there’s no dirt there,” Wilson said.
“I don’t look for anybody to have a blowout,” Wilson said,“and I don’t look for anyone to have a grievous error.”
Wilson said he’s dumbfounded that pundits have vilified Romney for his wealth.
“When I was growing up,someone who was successful in business and wealthy was revered and respected. That’s the American dream,” he said.
Come Nov. 6,Wilson said 2012 will be a repeat of the 1980 election,when Ronald Reagan pulled ahead of President Jimmy Carter in what had been a largely deadlocked contest.
“You can put this one in the bank – you heard it here first,” Wilson said.
Reach reporter Jory Heckman at [email protected] or 202-326-9868. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.