Students were excited to hear discussion of foreign policy, health care and more taken on by the U.S. Democratic presidential candidates at a watch party in Beering Hall on Tuesday.
The Center for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network Scholarship and Engagement and the political science department hosted the event “Pizza and Politics,” for students to watch the Democratic debate and grab a slice of pizza in the meantime.
“This is an event to bring students together to experience the political process and to talk about it,” said Connie Doebele, managing director for the Center for C-SPAN Scholarship and Engagement. “We want to get the students engaged and talk about what their thoughts are.”
Students said they enjoyed this event because it allowed them to encounter opposing political ideas.
“I like to be able to hear the thoughts of other people while watching the debate,” said Katherine Stephens, a junior in the College of Liberal Arts. “I would put myself on the moderate-leaning, more conservative side of the spectrum, so it’s nice to hear other views.”
The fourth Democratic debate was held on Tuesday in Westerville, Ohio, hosted by CNN and The New York Times.
This was the largest presidential primary debate in recorded American political history, with 12 candidates on stage.
Students were led into discussion by political science professor Peter Watkins, who asked students if they would change the Democratic candidate they supported if the rest of the U.S. did not see them as electable.
The majority of students in the audience answered yes, saying they would change their support if another candidate had more backing to get into the White House.
Eight candidates have qualified for the next debate on Nov. 20 by getting at least 2% support in a minimum of four approved opinion polls as well as receiving money from at least 130,000 donors, Watkins said.
Students also shared what they were hoping to see in this round of debate.
“I really want to see abortion laws (discussed) because that wasn’t addressed last time,” said Claire Anton, a freshman in the College of Liberal Arts. “Or reproductive health. Immigration and the drug problem in the (U.S.) would also be cool for them to discuss.”
Stephens said she is hoping to see issues of healthcare and immigration brought up as well.
The debate began with moderators asking each candidate their thoughts on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
All candidates supported the impeachment of Trump, with Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden both saying that Trump was the most corrupt president the nation has ever seen.
Several students laughed each time this was said, with some mentioning how they thought former President Richard Nixon was probably more corrupt.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren was later attacked by many of her fellow candidates, including South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, about her “Medicare for All” plan when she repeatedly avoided the question of whether she would raise taxes on the middle class.
Students continued to collectively voice their opinions on certain issues throughout the debate, finding the Pizza and Politics event to be a good place to share their opinions.
Stephens said that she can be as outspoken as she wants and is able to explain why she views certain issues as she does.
The debate ended with a question about what friendships have impacted the candidates and their beliefs. The moderators referenced Ellen DeGeneres and former President George Bush’s friendship and how it surprised many people.
Most students seemed to tune out the end of the debate and said they felt that it was an irrelevant question when the moderators did not ask about the more pressing issues of climate change.
After the debate ended, students weighed in on who they believed to have won the debate.
The majority of students agreed that Buttigieg and Rep. Beto O’Rourke won the debate. Many students also said they thought Warren, even though she was attacked most of the night, did well because she carried herself through it well.
Doebele said that she hopes students will walk away from the event educated and able to participate in outside discussion on politics in this hectic political climate.