RICHMOND, Va. — The New York Times enlisted 20 student newspaper editors from around the country to weigh in on the vice presidential debate in real time for the Times’ Caucus Blog. Below are the entries I filed from a watch party on the campus of the University of Richmond throughout the evening. Read the full stream of posts here and my reactions from the first debate here.
11:40 p.m. — About half the people in the room stayed behind for a post-debate discussion. Some students said they thought that Palin partially redeemed herself, now that she’s been given a chance to speak directly to Americans. Others said Palin was talking to them as if they were 12-year-old children and merely proved she’s too inexperienced.
Students were also criticizing her for failing to answer questions. “It bothers me if she can’t answer a straight question,” one female student said. Another brought up the problem of sexism: What Palin said wasn’t being taken as seriously because of her gender.
Students were craving for more discussion about social security, which threatens to be non-existent by the time we’re eligible for it, and health care. Many others criticized the lack of talk about the government’s fiscal responsibility.
10:25 p.m. — Education, particularly as it relates to college students, hasn’t been addressed so far. Biden mentioned it in passing, Palin talked briefly about No Child Left Behind and its failures. But about 70 percent of students here trust Obama to handle education the best, according to a survey by our newspaper. Ten percent said McCain.
Students are nervous about whether they’ll be able to obtain private loans to finance their education, and it’s an issue the candidates need to address more forcefully. Obama has talked about a tuition credit for students, but it’s unclear how he would pay for it.
I’m watching the debate with about 110 students — just as many as there were for the first presidential debate. Most students here have an unfavorable opinion of Gov. Palin, and many say they don’t know who Joe Biden is. This debate should set up clear differences between where both candidates stand.
9:53 p.m. — Most students here probably agree that global warming is a man-made phenomenon. Both candidates are offering similar plans related to the environment. But absent so far has been any specific plan about how to reduce carbon emissions. Mass transit infrastructure in this country is woefully underfunded and not nearly as comprehensive compared to systems in other countries. In Richmond, the city’s only mass transit system might have to cut routes because there’s not enough money to fund them. Gas prices are high, and students and the rest of this country need relief.
8:12 p.m. — Unemployment claims are at a seven-year high, and I’m a senior in college planning to get a job when I graduate. What are the vice presidential candidates’ plans for ensuring a healthy job market? I’d also like to see them address that other big issue: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Forget the past; what are our long-term plans for each country? Finally, a detailed discussion about how to cut dependence on foreign oil is important, both for our economy and national security interests.