Presidential Debate: What Would You Ask The Candidates?

'I know that they can't fix the economy in four years ... but I want somebody who can improve us as a country,' one student says.

HEMPSTEAD, New York — Fewer than 300 Hofstra University students scored lucky golden tickets to Tuesday (October 16) night’s second presidential debate. 
 But that didn’t mean the ones who were shut out didn’t have plenty of hard questions for President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney.

MTV News’ Power of 12 spoke to a number of underclassmen who will be watching the townhall debate on TV and we asked them: What are you expecting from the candidates, and what would you ask if given the chance?

“As a college student my biggest problem is getting a job in the next three or four years, so I really want a president who’s going to help me get a job,” said Ashley Mungiguerra, a journalism/French major from Dallas, Texas. “I know that they can’t fix the economy in four years because that’s just not reasonable. But I want somebody who can improve us as a country.”

And with the daily headlines about violence in Syria and Turkey and the rising death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan she’d also like to hear Obama and Romney talk about their plans to deal with turmoil in the Middle East.

Dion Pierre, 18, a political science major and first-time voter from Queens, New York, said he expects Obama to come out more aggressively given the criticism the president got for being too lax in the first debate. “But I’m also really hoping that Mitt Romney will excel in this format,” he said of his preferred candidate. “I think he’s a very approachable guy, unlike what the media has portrayed [and] he cares about the middle class.”

Broadcast journalism freshman Michael Fuller said he’d like to hear both men talk about the pressing college concern of student financial aid, as well as how they plan to turn around the country’s high unemployment rate.

“I think it was a very strategic move on Obama’s part to be laid-back,” said journalism major Sidney Madden, 21, putting a positive spin on what was widely derided as a lackluster showing by the president. “Now it has more excitement building up to the second debate. He’ll have an element of surprise and I think he’ll really rev up not only his political base, but the undecided. They’ll see the reignition of classic Obama.”

After what some critics said were short-on-details economic plans put forward by Romney and running mate Rep. Paul Ryan in the first two debates, Madden said she’s looking for hard numbers. “I really want to hear specific platforms,” she said. “I want to hear details. I’m not into overviews or political statements. I want to hear details about how it will change or how it will stay the same.”

The range of issues the students wanted addressed were wide in scope. English major Allison Kamin, 19, has been focused on gun control in light of the raft of school shootings and the movie theater rampage in Colorado earlier this year, while public relations major Rachel E. Peace, 20, said she needs some details on health care and the national debt.

“We didn’t help create it and we’re going to come out of school to an economy where there aren’t a lot of jobs and then not only be paying off our own school debts, but a national debt that we didn’t help create,” said Peace.

Check out all our coverage of Tuesday’s presidential debate and stick with MTV’s Power of 12 throughout the 2012 election season.

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