Watching parties thin out early

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    Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain intensified attacks against each other Wednesday night in the final and most aggressive debate in the heated race, but students watching the debate in parties on and off campus appeared to have already made up their mind about their vote.

    Small crowds at the campus party in the Brown-Lupton University Union and the TCU Democrats’ party at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop thinned out as the debate progressed. In the auditorium of the BLUU, a group of about 30 students gathered to view the last presidential debate between McCain and Obama. By the end of the debate, though, the majority of viewers had already left.

    Some students gathered simply to get a greater insight into each candidate’s policies rather than to root on their favorite.

    Bethany McQuerry, a freshman premajor, said she felt both candidates were well-spoken and showed confidence in what they said.

    Journalism professor Chip Stewart said he felt the final debate was much more lively than the other two presidential debates. Stewart said McCain delivered some of the points his party wanted him to, but Obama did a solid job on the defensive.

    Stewart said a single debate will do little to swing voters either side.

    “Lots of people have already made up their mind,” Stewart said.

    Stewart, an undecided voter, said both candidates do have some noticeable weaknesses. He said Obama still does not have an extensive record of political experience or leadership, and McCain’s attacking stance during the debate is almost never popular with the undecided voter.

    Justin Brown, a senior political science major and Obama supporter, said he felt McCain was behind during the debate and was responding to Obama’s statements rather than outlining his own policies.

    Another Obama supporter, freshman nutrition major Jamie Klump, said Obama “is coming back with what he believes rather than fighting” with McCain.

    Although a majority of those in the BLUU auditorium supported Obama, a few said they are undecided or support independent candidates.

    Hayden Ganther, a freshman political science major, said he supports Ralph Nader’s presidential candidacy. Ganther said both candidates in the debate offered more of the same. He said he felt upset that neither candidate wants to address a “disregard for the Constitution” during the past eight years, citing the “undeclared war” on Iraq and the 2001 Patriot Act, which expanded U.S. law enforcement authority on surveillance for the stated purpose of fighting terrorism.

    At Fuzzy’s, the debate watching party began with about 35 viewers. By 8:30 p.m., Fuzzy’s employees were taking down the signs supporting Obama, and only about five students remained to watch the debate.

    As people tried to watch the debate, they were forced to read captions as the surrounding televisions and jukebox were louder than the debate and drowned out the sound of the televisions airing the debate.

    Dani Folks, senior social work and anthropology major and coordinator for TCU Students for Barack Obama, said they were displeased with the environment at Fuzzy’s.

    “It was not what we expected or were promised by the management, but we made do with what we were given and we had a pretty good turn out early,” Folks said.

    Rachel Pletcher, junior finance major, said she was glad the candidates talked about their ads against each another.

    “Each of them talked about how they would confront each other face-to-face and really let the truth be exposed,” Pletcher said.