Students, Franken gather for debate watch party

Student for Obama held a presidential debate watch party Wednesday night in the Bell Museum of Natural History.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., speaks Wednesday at a presidential debate watch party.  Students for Obama hosted the party at the Bell Museum of Natural History.

Anthony Kwan

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., speaks Wednesday at a presidential debate watch party. Students for Obama hosted the party at the Bell Museum of Natural History.

Alexi Gusso

Students filled a Bell Museum auditorium Wednesday night to watch the first presidential debate at a watch party hosted by Students for Obama.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., joined the party as well. He spoke to the audience briefly before they watched a live stream of the Denver debate between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Franken explained the importance of debates in the presidential election.

“For some folks this will be really the first time they’re paying attention and tuning in…this is a chance for people to take their measure of both men and their ideas and their policies, and it’s extremely important,” he said.

Franken expected Obama to give a “very thoughtful and knowledgeable presentation.” He said he wasn’t sure what his expectations of Romney were.

“I have not been impressed with him in terms of his ability to connect with people and his ability to communicate that he is on the side of all Americans,” he said, “And a large part of that comes directly with him saying that he’s not.”

As the debate progressed, the audience seemed engaged by the political discourse.

Comments by both candidates sparked enthusiastic responses from the audience as they discussed issues dealing with domestic policy.

Finance freshman Arnav Joshi  thought [MA1] the debate was interesting and was especially surprised by Romney’s performance.

“Everyone I’ve talked to has said that [Romney] doesn’t have a personality,” he said. “But after watching him debate, he seems like a pretty interesting guy,” he said. 

SFO president Laura Pratt [MA2] was happy with the event’s outcome.

“It definitely shows how excited students are about the election and how dedicated they are to learning more about the issues at play in the election,” she said.

Pratt thought both candidates did a great job and was impressed by their responses to questions on education. 

She was also excited by the few mentions Minnesota got in the debate, including a Mayo Clinic acknowledgement by Romney.

Pratt said SFO would be active in getting students to vote, especially in the remaining days before voter registration forms are officially due.

“Really what we want is to turnout students. In 2010 we did not see the turnout we saw in ’08, and to come even near that number would be great,” she said. “It’s just really important that students vote and it’s important that we keep reminding them of that.”


 [MA1]http://www.umn.edu/lookup?SET_INSTITUTION=UMNTC&UID=joshi145

 [MA2]http://sua.umn.edu/groups/directory/show.php?id=2863