Last Thursday, members of the Bates community gathered in the Skelton Lounge in Chase Hall to watch the third Democratic debate of the primary cycle. Aired by ABC News with moderators George Stephanopoulos, David Muir, Linsey Davis, and Jorge Ramos, the debate featured the top ten polling candidates in the Democratic primary. Topics highlighted in the debate included healthcare, foreign policy, and gun control.
Response to the debate was mixed. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusset’s performance seemed to be viewed positively, with her comments seeming to receive the most applause in the Skelton Lounge. Meanwhile, Former Vice President Joe Biden’s performance was less warmly received, with his response to a question about social inequality in particular receiving strong criticism. “I’m glad [Former Vice President] Biden is getting attacked by the other candidates,” said Abhi Agarwal ’23. “I don’t like his record.”
Last Thursday’s debate party will not be the only event this election cycle hosted jointly by the Politics and Rhetoric, Film, and Screen Studies departments, as there will be many events this year with the aim of promoting political awareness and citizenship.
“Every four years, we, along with the Politics Department, do a whole calendar of events concerning the presidential election,” says Stephanie Kelley-Romano, Chair of the Rhetoric, Film, and Screen Studies Department. Dr. Kelley-Romano teaches a course called Presidential Campaign Rhetoric, in which her students simulate a mock presidential election.
These events will not only take the form of debate watch parties, but will also include discussions and debriefings. “In the past, we’ve done debriefings of major events such as inaugurations, which were hosted by Politics professors John Baughman and Stephen Engel,’’ says Kelley-Romano.
The departments will also invite relevant speakers to talk about rhetoric and campaigning. “Last summer, we had Jared Golden and Ben Cline host a panel, which was interesting given their different partisan perspectives,” says Kelley-Romano. Jared Golden ’11 and Ben Cline ’94 are both members of the U.S. House of Representatives who were both elected to their first term in the 2018 midterms.
The election event series will culminate with a watch party on election night. “In 2016 we had a watch party in Chase Hall which was crazy—we had people in the Skelton Lounge, we had people in the Den—every room was occupied,” says Kelley-Romano. “It was packed: students were everywhere.”
The next Democratic primary debate will encompass two nights on October 15th and 16th.