Many Mills students watched Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen.
John Edwards duke it out over key campaign issues such as
terrorism, the occupation of Iraq, and same-sex marriage on
Tuesday, Oct. 5, in the only vice presidential debate for the
upcoming November presidential election.
Forty-three percent of ABC News viewers chose Cheney as the
winner, while 41 percent of CBS viewers thought Edwards won,
according to CNN. Students at Mills were equally conflicted,
regardless of party affiliation and some believed that there
wasn’t a clear winner.
The candidates met at Western Reserve Univ. in Cleveland, Ohio
and addressed one another directly, calling each other out on
inaccurate information and attacking their opponent’s
“I thought it was really problematic the way they talked
directly at each other, and showed so much disrespect,” said
sophomore Britt Card.
Edwards talked about the war on terrorism in the context of the
Iraqi occupation, saying that he and Kerry are “not going to
suggest to [the American people] that things are going
well…when, in fact, they’re not.” He said that
they would tell the world the truth about their use of force and
make sure everyone understands the legitimacy of their decisions in
Cheney said that efforts in Afghanistan have been successful,
mentioning the upcoming elections in Afghanistan and saying that
the Bush administration will “never let up on Osama bin
When asked about poverty and employment in the U.S., Cheney
focused on education, healthcare and taxes. Edwards responded by
saying that the Bush administration is the first in 70 years to
lose jobs and create none. He also pointed to what he views as the
increasing difficulty to pay for things like healthcare and college
and said, “I don’t think this country can handle
another four years.”
Cheney accused Edwards of being fairly absent as a senator,
saying that he had missed 33 out of 36 congressional meetings, and
noted that his hometown newspaper refers to him as “Senator
Edwards responded by bringing up Cheney’s record as a
senator, which included voting against a Martin Luther King
holiday, Meals on Wheels, freeing Nelson Mandela, the Head Start
program, and a vote for the manufacturing of plastic guns that can
get through security checkpoints.
Questions of credibility and accusations of inconsistency flew
throughout the debate.
“It gives the impression that they couldn’t have a
conversation without a moderator,” said senior Ebony Cain.
“At some point they all go back to
Congress…they’re supposed to be working together to
make the system work, but I’m not seeing that right
Dan Rather of CBS News recalled the vice presidential debates
four years ago as “conversational, almost jovial,”
while this year’s were more of a “slug fest.”
Throughout the debate, they went back and forth, citing
conflicting facts. When Edwards accused Cheney of leading
“the American people” to believe that Saddam Hussein
had a connection with Iraq, Cheney denied ever doing so.
Cheney also brushed off Edwards’ accusations of his
unethical business practices while head of the Halliburton
Corporation, saying that there was “no substance to the
When confronted with his short political career, Edwards said,
“A long resume does not mean good judgment. I mean,
we’ve seen over and over and over the misjudgments made by
Some students felt that Cheney showed the moderator
“As a woman, I felt really disrespected by the fact that
the vice president continued to address the moderator by her first
name,” said Cain. “[It] showed a lack of decorum
reminiscent of the debates last week and shows a problem within the
But there was one moment that Mills viewers felt changed the
harsh tone of the evening.
When discussing the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage,
Edwards acknowledged Cheney’s lesbian daughter and said that
“you can’t have anything but respect” for the
Cheney’s open embrace of their daughter’s sexuality.
Cheney responded by thanking him for his remarks.
Many students were surprised when Edwards went on to say that he
and Kerry believe in limiting marriage to between a man and
“They’re trying to win over the swing states,”
said sophomore Katrina Wardell. “Middle America isn’t
ready for gay marriage, and [Kerry and Edwards] want that vote.