Students in communication and journalism professor Debra Petersen’s political communication class gathered Monday in the Brady Educational Center to watch the last of three presidential debates between President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney.
At the viewing, Petersen used creativity to help students identify main points of the debate. She gave the students red, white and blue jelly beans to put in three separate cups when they thought a candidate did well on a topic. Red meant Romney, blue meant Obama and white meant they were neutral.
Students in Debra Petersen's political communication class watch the presidential debate in Brady Educational Center Monday. The students analyzed key points each candidate made throughout the night. (Tarkor Zehn/TommieMedia)
“I was trying to think of something visual and fun,” Petersen said.
At the end of the night, most students’ jelly bean colors were fairly even. Senior Mike Kaliszewski said he noticed the candidates seemed to stray from one particular issue: foreign policy.
“They kind of agreed on most of them (the issues) in the beginning, and that’s where it went off track to domestic issues and talking about the economy again,” Kaliszewski said. “That’s where I kind of dropped off because it’s broken record, and I don’t want to hear that.”
Petersen said she had a mixed reaction to incorporating tweets into the live broadcast.
“There were some humorous ones, but I don’t know in terms of what it does for viewers or what it does for the people tweeting,” Petersen said. “It seems like the people tweeting want to come up with something clever, so if you’re doing that then you’re not going to be paying attention to the arguments being made.
Petersen said the comment that generated the most social media responses was Obama’s reference to horses and bayonets.
“Of course what he’s trying to do is to push that image of Romney being old fashioned and out of touch, so that’s what you’ll hope will stick,” Petersen said.
Overall, the one person the class seemed to be pleased with was moderator Bob Schieffer.
“I felt he did a good job, and I felt you could learn something,” Petersen said. “It was kind of a tutorial in the kinds of issues the U.S. is dealing with.”
Senior Karlie Eaton said she thought the candidates seemed to have different methods, but overall similar views.
“I think overall Romney did a lot more declaring and Obama did a lot more attacking on Romney’s views, but I walked out of it thinking that all the things Romney says he’s going to do is stuff Obama is already doing,” Eaton said.
Tarkor Zehn can be reached at email@example.com.