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DePaul Students Watch Debate, Approve Obama’s Performance

If there were any supporters of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at DePaul University’s debate watching party Tuesday night, they did a good job of hiding it.

The 50 students who gathered in DePaul’s Brownstone Lounge to view the town hall debate lazed on comfy chairs, worked on homework, attentively checked their Facebook and Twitter feeds, munched on two rounds of free pizza and laughed at a nearly everything Romney had to say.

DePaul Students Erik Ljungberg, 24 (left) and Max Witherspoon, 21 (right) discuss the presidential debate.

In fairness, they laughed at President Barack Obama, too.

Like when he asked moderator Candy Crowley to “say that a little louder” when she said Obama “did in fact” call the attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans– including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens– an act of terror the day after it happened.

Romney said during the debate that it took Obama 14 days to make that call.

The Libya question had the whole room, including students checking news updates on their MacBook Pros, knitting, and working together on a school project—on alert.  Most of them put down whatever else they were occupied with to clap for Obama. DePaul is the largest Catholic university in the nation, founded by the Vincentians in 1898.

Ahlam Shahbain, 24, laughed at other moments during the debate, too.

“I thought it was humorous when Romney just stated ‘government doesn’t create jobs, doesn’t create jobs’ at the very end,” she said.

Overall, Shahbain said she liked the Obama she saw during Tuesday’s debate.

“Obama was really on the offensive,” she said, adding that the during the first debate earlier this month, Obama seemed “like he didn’t care.”

Max Witherspoon, 21, also agreed that Obama won and called out Romney for not being specific about his tax plan.

“Romney says he has a plan, but he hasn’t really fleshed out the details, and that’s something that, even if I wasn’t sure that I was voting for Obama, I would be a little uncomfortable with,” he said. “How can I vote for somebody who isn’t giving me direct answers?”

But he wasn’t pleased with everything Obama had to say.

Witherspoon said he’s “a little tired” of the whole 47 percent comment Romney said in a secretly recorded video at a fundraiser in May. In the video that surfaced in September, Romney made some unpopular remarks about the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay income taxes.

“Even for Obama, I think that was a bit of a low blow,” he said. “I think it’s about time to get over it and start talking about policy and not the nitty gritty of what everybody said.”

But his friend Erik Ljungberg, 24, a student from Sweden, said he was happy Obama mentioned the 47 percent.

“He wouldn’t have said that in his last debate, and he had some catching up to do, so calling Mitt Romney out for what he actually said– probably for what he actually believes– was really good,” Ljungberg said.

Amir Starrweg, 25, said he appreciated the question about gun control, because the candidates have been “ignoring that for two months.”

“I don’t think Romney’s response meant anything, and I don’t think he has any plan for gun control,” he said.

He would have liked to see a question asked about climate change.

“Every time they talk about energy, both of them want to drill and drill,” Starrweg said. “That’s a disappointment.”

Yamesse Del Valle, 18, wanted to hear the candidates debate their positions on marriage equality—an issue Del Valle feels strongly about.

They didn’t. But, as a first-time voter, she’s optimistic.

“I feel like it’s a really great time to be my first time to vote, because I have been following politics since I was young,” she said. “I can remember having conversations with my mom at 8 years old about these policies, and now I actually get a say.”

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