Democrats and Republicans gather for primary viewing party

Taylor Nicole Richards – News Writer

Politically-involved students gathered at 8 p.m. April 26 in Engleman’s A-wing auditorium to watch the presidential primary results in real time. As they waited for delegate results to filter in on CNN, the viewing party held three separate debates.

Two students each from the College Democrats and College Republicans debated first. The last debate was between John Wharton, assistant professor of Political Science, and Chris Piscitelli, assistant Dean of Students. The debates and viewing party lasted over two hours.

Zumpano served as the moderator for the first debate. He asked if any of the college democrats thought that Bernie Sanders had a shot at the democratic nominee. Corey Evans, junior Political Science major, was hopeful for the candidate. Sanders won just Rhode Island in the New England primaries and lost all of the other states to Clinton.

“From the start, he’s always been a very real candidate. I think one of the big problems with the Hillary campaign is that they underplayed him. They thought that if they didn’t talk about him, he’d go away. He talks on college campuses and brings in massive crowds. I think that’s something that a lot of people did not expect in the establishment,” said Evans.

Mishele Rodriguez, junior political science major, agreed with Evans and said that Sanders gave young people a voice they didn’t have before in politics.

“Young people don’t vote often or as much as we’re supposed to. He got millennials more excited for politics than we’ve ever been,” said Rodriguez. “Sanders is an underdog who’s gaining a lot of ground.”

After discussing Sanders, Zumpano went on to ask the College Republicans on the panel what they thought of Donald Trump’s 60 percent unfavorable rating reported by the Huffington Post. John Coniglio, junior education major, supports Trump and said that he “speaks the truth and that gets people excited.” Ty Seymour, junior political science major, was the other republican on the panel. Seymour doesn’t support Trump but understands how he’s gained so much momentum. Trump won all New England states in the primaries.

“I think a lot of it has to do with after eight years, [republicans] have the opportunity to take the white house again. That’s really energized a lot of the republicans and I think Trump captured a lot of the people who are anti-washington, anti-establishment.”

Although Seymour understands how Trump garnered so much support, he said there’s “nothing he could ever say” in the future that would make him vote for him. A student from the crowd asked Evans if he would ever support Trump since he’s anti-establishment like Sanders. Evans said he could never support someone who has promoted violence in the past.

“You cannot have someone with that much power saying what he says. It doesn’t matter if you have good policy, his rhetoric alone would make him such a danger and empower people to do negative things,” said Evans.

Coniglio challenged Evans’ claims that Trump promoted violence. He asked the panel if they’ve ever heard of Trump supporters disrupting Sanders or Clinton’s rallies, then stated that he frequently hears of them causing trouble inside Trump rallies.

Before Wharton and Piscitelli started debating after the students, they made a point to announce how pleased they were to see so many students involved in politics.

“Bernie has created a lot of political energy in college students and it would be great to see that energy translated on the local level. There is so much happening locally at your hometowns. Getting involved in those processes is equally important as what you see here,” said Piscitelli. “All policy is local. At some point, you won’t be sitting in engleman hall listening to your professors speak of political rhetoric, you’re going to be in your world, maybe raising families and living in an environment where the politics that happen are going to be really important.”

Photo Credit: Taylor Nicole Richards – News Writer

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