Education

Distinguished OU affiliates faced off at mock presidential debate

Photo by Dylanni Smith

A mock presidential debate with Richard Vedder and David Wilhelm focused on policy issues over character attacks last night.

Vedder and Wilhelm argued for Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at the debate on Wednesday.

The event was held by the Ohio Program of Intensive English (OPIE) and ended an hour prior to the official and last presidential debate.

Vedder, who holds a doctorate in economics, represented Trump and Wilhelm, the campaign manager for former President Bill Clinton, represented Clinton. Wilhelm is also a lifetime superdelegate of the Democratic National Committee and Vedder is a distinguished professor emeritus here at Ohio University.

“Neither of us plan to talk about the moral failings of the two presidential candidates,” began Vedder. He continued his argument with a disclaimer stating he himself does not look fondly on Trump’s rhetoric toward women, Muslims and African Americans; however, Vedder has endorsed Trump for president and encouraged College Republicans in September to vote for the candidate.

Wilhelm sat on the side, smiling, as Vedder vehemently argued against the Obama administration, focusing mostly on economics. He touched base on numerous presidents, 21 to be exact, who had at least one year in which the economy grew by 3 percent.

“The talker, not the doer, when it comes to economic growth,” Vedder said about President Barack Obama. “And not once has Hillary Clinton criticized this.”

Vedder continued his argument rattling off issues with Clinton’s foreign policy, listing Benghazi, Libya, the red line in Syria and the loss of U.S. credibility in the Middle East as reasons to vote against the Democratic nominee. He said Clinton would simply be another Obama presidency, “minus the charisma.”

Wilhelm said this continuity was not negative, but rather a positive chance to better legislative like the Affordable Care Act instead of throwing out all progress and starting over completely.

“If you believe America is already great and can be greater, then you should vote for Secretary Clinton,” he said.

Wilhelm rebutted Vedder’s defense of Trump, stating a candidate whose policies are feelings and not detailed plans is not fit to be commander-in-chief. He referenced Clinton’s website has “112,000” words devoted to public policy issues whereas Trump called this sort of preparation a “waste of paper.”

“An election ought to be more than feelings, is it really all that awful to throw some plans out here?” Wilhelm asked the crowd.

Some audience members giggled much to his distaste.

The intelligent, yet relaxed, rhetoric of this mock presidential debate served as an example of how two academics with sharp, differing viewpoints can debate without assaulting each other’s person.

About the author

Elizabeth Chidlow

Elizabeth Chidlow, a junior at Ohio University, is the assistant local editor and a copy editor for The New Political. She majors in strategic communication, minors in political science and has a specialization in social media marketing. Recently, Elizabeth interned at the mayor’s office in the City of Pittsburgh. You can follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @e_chidlow.

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