ODU Democrats Remain Hopeful at Debate Watch
The ODU Democrats trickled into the Virginia Beach Room in the Webb Center to watch the fourth Democratic presidential debate on Jan. 17, though it was more a gesture of engagement than a genuine interest in the candidates’ arguments.
“We’re all for Bernie,”Alex Scruggs, a member of the Democratic group, said. “We voted last semester and chose to support him.”
Going into the last debate before the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, the organization had made their choice well in advance.
However, the nine attendees watched Secretary Clinton, Sen. Sanders and Gov. Martin O’Malley who provided an occasional quip or square off on issues of gun control, congressional unity, climate change and national security.
“Stop letting them see the bullshit in your eyes,” Armani Gladden, secretary for the ODU Democrats said to Clinton though the screen during the first commercial break. “Divert your gaze!”
Vice president Corey Overstreet noted Clinton as more concerned with scoring political points than commitment to the issues. “A poll shows the majority of Americans support same-sex marriage? ‘Oh, I support same-sex marriage!’” Overstreet mocked.
The group’s assessment of Sanders’ performance was not without criticism.
“He’s very sharp, even if he seems like he’s not,” Gladden said.
Claudette Woodhouse, director of Outreach and Engagement for ODU Democrats, expressed an indifference to the candidates’ messages. When asked if anyone on stage surprised her, she said, “They said what they always say.”
Her remark was reversed for Sen. Sanders when asked about his voting record. “He’s been saying the same thing since he started talking,” Woodhouse said, admiring his consistency.
— Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) January 17, 2016
Woodhouse does not believe that Clinton has the ability to energize the party’s younger base, but concedes that, “she pulls more women.”
The group’s endorsement of Sen. Sanders may lead some members to a disappointing election come November, however. When asked whether the organization would support Clinton if she beats Sanders for the nomination, a student who wished to remain anonymous said, “The organization would toe the party line, but I would probably abstain from voting.”
In contrast, Overstreet plead for political engagement. When pressed for the most important thing he could say to ODU students, Over street said, “Register to vote, then actually vote!”
His words, however, may not be enough to convince an increasingly disinterested electorate to head to the voting booth.
Whether Bernie Sanders has the momentum to take the lead in the primaries remains to be seen, but the ODU Democrats are keen to remind any who would ask that in 1981 he won the race for mayor of Burlington, Vermont by 10 votes.
But if Clinton can maintain her lead, some of the ODU Democrats may end up voting for the Republican.