BOCA RATON, Florida — As President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney gear up for Monday night's (October 22) final presidential debate, MTV News' Power of 12 fanned out across the camps of host Lynn University to find out what topics students want to hear the two men tackle in their foreign policy showdown.
One of the strongest voices was that of Marine Corps veteran Nathan Dennis, 27, a Lynn student and native of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin who moved to the U.S. as a teenager. Dennis enlisted after realizing that even with his Pell Grants and a full-time job, the Marine Corps was likely his only path to affording college.
"As a United States Marine Corps veteran, I would like to hear the candidates talk about foreign policy and international economic initiatives," said Dennis, a former lifeguard who got a medical discharge from the Marines after doctors discovered a benign cancer and the presence of a blood clot in his left leg that left him at risk for a pulmonary embolism. "As well as foreign alliances and the post-9/11 G.I. Bill and restrictions, such as out-of-state college tuition."
Dennis said he's seeking answers from both candidates about whether they will make an exemption in the G.I. bill that will allow returning veterans more flexibility in choosing schools upon their return. Standing in the shadow of a remembrance plaza in the middle of campus honoring the four Lynn students and two professors who died in 2010's Haitian earthquake, Dennis said he also needs to hear more about what Obama and Romney's plans are for keeping up key foreign alliances to help shore up U.S. forces deployed overseas.
With the rush of the memorial fountains falling curtain of water behind him, Dennis said he's on the fence, but definitely leaning in one direction. "I'm a little undecided," said the longboarding, surfing fanatic. "But I'm leaning more towards Obama because I think he displays wonderful leadership, especially on the care needs of the young American people."
He said he's frustrated with the way many of Obama's critics don't give the president the benefit of the doubt on big initiatives like the Affordable Care Act, which take time to implement and manifest. On the other hand, while he appreciates Romney's business acumen, he's still waiting to hear some specific details about the former Massachusetts Governor's economic plans.
Romney could possibly change his mind, though, if he came out in support of an exemption of the residence requirement in the G.I. Bill.
With preparations for the debate swirling all around, Dennis also talked about a friend of his who was injured in an IED explosion in Afghanistan and who has had a hard time re-integrating into society because of battles with alcohol, depression and a dishonorable discharge. "He's going through a lot of problems right now," said Dennis, noting that his friend is not alone in struggling to get back on his feet after a return from combat. "And I guess he didn't get the help he needed."
Taking care of our veterans is key to Dennis and he said he hoped the candidates would talk about that and about other overseas entanglements that impact his friends.
"They [veterans] deserve recognition for the hard work that they do," he said. "Sometimes I feel that they lack that. They deserve security when they come back home, job creation, health care, wellness, mental issues, all of these [things] play a big role."
What would you like to hear President Obama and Gov. Romney talk about in tonight's debate? Let us know in comments below.
Check out all our coverage of Monday's final presidential debate and stick with MTV's Power of 12 throughout the 2012 election season.