Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ccac Students Vote a Tie in Final Presidential Debate

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ccac Students Vote a Tie in Final Presidential Debate

Article excerpt

If the presidential election were held at CCAC-Boyce after the final presidential debate, it would have been a draw.

Eight students in Barbara Danko's American Government class met in a classroom at Community College of Allegheny County to watch President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry debate that night on television.

The sampling was too tiny to have any predictive value, but the views expressed reflected the concerns that many Americans are weighing.

Danko teaches American Government as a lifetime skill, focusing on the processes of government and on public policy. All the while, she tries to show students how government affects their lives.

CCAC students come from every walk of life, she said. A few are passionate about Republican or Democrat politics, but most are still forming their political philosophies.

They were a tough group to decipher during the debate. No one cheered or jeered, but there was a lot of yawning, fidgeting, thumb twiddling, eye palming, leg tapping and knuckle cracking.

The Republican clique was a bit more animated than the Democratic faithful. When Bush spoke, they nodded, took notes and traded knowing smiles. When Kerry spoke, they crossed their arms.

Everyone seemed to listen closely when Bush, and to a lesser extent, Kerry, discussed the importance of religion in their lives.

The only outburst occurred when moderator Bob Schieffer queried the candidates on what they had learned from the strong women in their lives. "To listen to them," Bush replied, and the room broke out in laughter.

The students got into a spirited discussion about gay marriage after the debate. It was their most divisive issue, and they split evenly. But asked if the issue would influence their vote, none said it would.

The No Child Left Behind program in schools and the war in Iraq were the issues most cited by the Bush supporters.

Sophia Konidaris, 18, of White Oak, talked about the fundamental importance of learning to read and write; and as the daughter of Greek immigrants, she made an eloquent defense of immigration.

"I wouldn't be here [if immigration were restricted.] My father came here for a better job and a better life for his family. …

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