Pundits debate amidst suspense of upcoming election

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Many Fairfield students might not know which presidential candidate they should vote for on Nov. 6, or if they will vote at all. But the debate between Dana Perino and Donna Brazile Monday night at the Quick Center showed students that their votes count.

Political speakers Donna Brazile and Dana Perino had a chance to speak freely about the upcoming elections. Perino spoke first, and although she may be on the Republican side, she talked about the current polls from both parties.

Perino discussed the recent Public Policy polling, which showed there is a higher percentage of identified and current registered Independents than there are for Democrats and Republicans. Perino asked the audience, “What does this mean?”

“Then there’s the undecided,” said Perino. “There’s only about 1 to 3 percent of them and you know what, they don’t all live in battleground states. You’re talking about probably 400,000 people in the country who self-describe themselves as detached from the election who will be the deciding factors.”

Although Perino then discussed the challenges of talking to the American people that both parties are facing, she directed the attention back to what Washington should be doing for the people.

Brazile praised Perino for her speech by saying, “Now ya’ll see why Dana has her own show, and I’m still auditioning.”

Senior Cate Martel picked up on the relationship between the speakers. “While the speakers didn’t agree about all issues, it was obvious that they had worked with each other in the past,” said Martel. “They really play off each other so the energy was good.”

After opening with a few more humorous lines, Brazile started discussing the topic of the upcoming debate. She agreed with Petrino in saying that the debate for the presidential candidates could be “a game changer.”

“While we know where both candidates stand today in terms of polls, things could change,” said Brazile. “Mitt Romney could have that magical moment. He could, after all, be able to put President Obama on the defensive.”

Brazile continued to discuss that the debates could dramatically change the election. She talked about past presidential candidate Al Gore, and how he was ahead by two points. But at one event close to the elections, people did not like the way Gore presented his body language, showing that anything can sway the election.

“It’s ultimately going to come down to the 2 to 4 percent of the American people who are ‘still undecided’ and those so-called battleground states,” said Brazile. “Now I think what they’re looking for on Wednesday night is that they’re looking for civility. They’re tired of the finger pointing, they’re tired of the screaming. They want to hear real solutions.”
She continued to say that the political parties needed to put aside their differences and begin bipartisan leadership. Brazile believes that the joint efforts of political parties will move the economy “in the right direction.”

After the talks were finished, Philip Eliasoph, founder of the Open VISIONS Forum, turned the attention to the student panelists who were going to ask questions about Domestic national issues, international questions and extra questions.
Student panelist Matt Morrissey ’13, chairman of the College Republicans, used his free question to bring up the issue of a political interest amongst students.

“I try to grab people based on their passion,” said Brazile. “I think it’s important to focus on what young people are excited about, what they’re passionate about. Not to assume that they walk into the room and that they’re going to wear blue or red or purple or green, but find out what they want. And then seek their help.”

In addition to Brazile’s response, “I think that in some ways these forums,” said Perino. “Hopefully if someone came to this forum tonight, and saw both of us tonight, Republican and Democrat, who get along great, who’ve worked together in the past. They’ll think, well, maybe that isn’t totally outside of what I could do and how I could participate in my community.”

Perino is currently a political commentator and regular co-host on the Fox News talk show, “The Five.” She has also served as Deputy Press Secretary from 2005 until 2007, when she was promoted to the White House Press Secretary until the end of the Bush Administration in January 2009.

Brazile is the Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee. In 2000, Brazile was campaign manager for Al Gore, making her the first African American to direct a major presidential campaign. She also serves as an Adjunct Professor of women and gender studies at Georgetown University.

After the event, students voiced their opinions about what they thought of each of the political speakers.

“I think Dana Perino was very intelligent and came off very tempered, which I believe was a result of her time as Press Secretary for President Bush,” said Jordan Freeman ’13. “I truly enjoyed Donna Brazile’s down-to-earth style, with a country flavor and life experiences that urged me to continue to stay involved in politics and community happenings.”

“Ms. Perino told many anecdotes that would pull on your heart strings, and Ms. Brazile really used the power of humor,” said Maxfield. “They both had me sitting on the edge of my seat.”

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