By MEGAN CALLANAN
The College Republicans held a viewing of the Republican (GOP) Presidential Debate in the Levering Lounge on Wednesday night. Approximately 100 people of differing political persuasions attended the event.
The debate featured former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush, retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee, Governor of Ohio John Kasich, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, celebrity businessman Donald Trump and Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker.
After the debate, a group of students discussed their reactions to the candidates’ performances. Senior Daniel Takash shared what he believed to be the most memorable moment of the debate: Rand Paul’s stance on marijuana legalization.
“The most memorable part of the debate was the discussion of the legalization of marijuana,” Takash said. “[Paul] has really courted the marijuana industry for money for his campaign. It really stuck out as an issue that wouldn’t normally belong at a Republican debate. I think it’s a sign of the times and was a very productive part of the debate.”
Junior Dana Ettinger of the Hopkins chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) attended and spoke about libertarian favorite Paul.
“I’m a libertarian, and you think that would make me love Rand Paul,” Ettinger said. “I generally can’t stand him, but I was really happy with him tonight. I thought he did really well on the foreign policy question.”
Trump’s campaign has gained heavy attention from the media and the public. Senior Daniel Shats shared his opinions on Trump’s performance, commenting particularly on some of Trump’s liberal leanings.
“He showed surprising liberal positions, including his positions on taxing the rich,” Shats said.
Senior Annie Blackman spoke about Trump’s presence and her opinion as to why he seems to lead the polls.
“Tonight, Donald Trump really demonstrated why he’s the leader in the poll, and it’s exactly because he’s the best debater and he presents himself best to the American people,” Blackman said. “He bested all of the candidates, at least when it comes to showmanship and debating. And when it comes to these debates, it’s not really about who knows the best policy but who can impress the most people and come up with the most political tactics.”
Shats also referenced Trump’s support of higher taxes for the rich, a position usually espoused by liberal politicians.
Neither Fiorina nor Carson have held public office before. Shats spoke about their performance in the debate.
“I was impressed with how much [Fiorina] knew on foreign policy as an outsider, contrasting Ben Carson, who didn’t know very much,” Shats said.
Ettinger cited the large attendance at the debate as a positive sign of political awareness on campus.
“I’m very involved in a lot of the political scene on campus, and I’m really excited to see people who are politically oriented in any room together because I don’t think I’ve seen this many people excited about something political in my three years here,” Ettinger said.
Ettinger spoke of the room’s reaction to an exchange about the false link between autism and vaccination between the skeptical Trump and Carson, a medical doctor who denied the link.
“They started talking about the vaccines and autism and someone said something just so wildly inaccurate and everyone started laughing,” she said.
College Republican President Nitin Nainani talked about the organization of the event.
“We spent a lot of time and effort into making this event possible, and it really wouldn’t have been possible if people hadn’t shown up,” Nainani said. “Hopkins is seen as one of the more politically apathetic campuses, and it’s very difficult to get people to care about politics at all. People were clearly engaged, and they care about the issues.”