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CU hosts KHIPP 2012 Presidential Election Forum

Oct. 11, 2012
For Immediate Release


Serving on the KHIPP presidential election forum were from left: Trey Grayson, Colmon Elridge and Scott Jennings. (Campbellsville University Photo by Kaylynn Best)

Serving on the KHIPP presidential election forum were from left: Trey Grayson, Colmon Elridge and
Scott Jennings. (Campbellsville University Photo by Kaylynn Best)


By Mary Kutter, student news writer

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – “Let’s face it. Debates matter,” Trey Grayson, director of the Institute of Politics at The John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and past Kentucky Secretary of State, said at Campbellsville University Oct. 9 in the Banquet Hall.

Greyson was one of three persons who spoke at the Kentucky Heartland Institute on Public Policies’ “2012 Presidential Election Forum.” Also participating in the conversation were Colmon Elridge, executive assistant to Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, director of the White House Faith Based Initiatives and executive vice president of Young Democrats of America, and Jeffery Scott Jennings, senior advisor of the Romney campaign in Ohio, past senior advisor of the George W. Bush 2004 campaign in New Mexico, director of strategic development and senior strategist for Peritus Public Relations in Louisville, special assistant to President George W. Bush and deputy director of the Office of Political affairs.

The event was moderated by John Chowning, vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president at CU, founder of KHIPP.

Grayson said, “[President Barack] Obama was leading in the polls until the first debate. Mitt Romney explained himself and his ideas [at the debate] in such a way that he had never done before.”

Grayson offered a nonpartisan overview of the presidential election, speaking of the strong and weak points of President Obama and Gov. Romney. He discussed the recent history of reelection campaigns saying, “When you look at presidents running for reelection, generally they get reelected. But no president has ever been reelected since F.D.R. [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] with unemployment this high.”

“President Obama inherited a bad economy,” Elridge said, defending the president’s financial record, “but four million plus jobs have been created and 95 percent of Americans have received a tax cut from this president.”
Pointing to the clear difference between Obama and Romney, Elridge said the Democratic Party believes in being involved with businesses, education and health care.

Elridge told the audience how he grew up poor and lost his father at a young age. He said that the ideals of the Democratic Party helped him through educational opportunities. “I am living proof that it actually works,” Elridge said.

“There’s the question of whether the ‘American Dream’ will continue to be a reality of our future or a relic of our past,” Elridge said, “As I look at this presidential election, I think Obama should be able to fight for these ideals for another four years.”

Jennings represented Romney and the Republican Party. The Kentucky-native said that the ever-expanding government is crushing job creation. He said at the beginning of his address, “The unemployment rate is unacceptable.”

Jennings claimed much of unemployment is due to the policies of the president that are stifling energy production and regulating small businesses to levels where business owners cannot compete in the marketplace.

“We are in a close race today because Obama broke his most important promise, fixing our financial crisis,” Jennings said. “He has only crushed jobs and people’s hopes.”

“Mitt Romney’s candidacy is about getting people back to work,” Jennings said. “Mitt Romney is going to fix this situation with his five-point plan.”

Romney’s five-point plan includes energy independence by increasing access to domestic energy resources, eliminating regulations destroying the coal industry, approving the Keystone XL pipeline and streamline permitting for exploration and development.

“It is not acceptable that we are falling behind in the world with reading and math,” Jennings said, moving to the second point of Romney’s plan, which is improving education. “We should empower teachers and parents first, and teachers unions second.”

Curtailing unfair trade practices of countries like China and strengthening free enterprise around the world was the third point Jennings made on Romney’s behalf.

“Obama said it’s unpatriotic to add to the debt,” Jennings said when discussing the fourth point being to cut the deficit. “Now we are six trillion more in debt after he has been in office.”

For the fifth point of the plan, Jennings spoke of championing small businesses through reforming the tax code and reducing regulation on small businesses.

In a rebuttal after Jennings’ points, Elridge said Obama’s accomplishments in office were done almost entirely without the help of Congress. “The Republican Congress’ number one priority was not to help the American people but to make Obama a one-term president.”

Jennings said in response that Obama had a Democratic Senate and House of Representatives for his first two years in the Oval Office.

When the two discussed some of Obama’s controversial decisions while in office, such as the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare), Elridge said, “What I have admired about this president is that he doesn’t view his term in office in term of getting reelected. My grandmother would always tell me right is always right. It may not be easy, but it is always right.”

Directing the discussion back to the economy, Jennings said, “Twenty-three million Americans can’t find a job. Forty-seven million are on food stamps. Unemployment went down last week because so many people have stopped looking for work.”

“We must build an economy by strengthening the middle class,” Elridge said in disagreement to what he called a “trickle-down economy” that he believes the Republic Party wants. “It’s about setting priorities,” he said.
Concluding his speaking, Jennings posed the question to undecided voters, “What kind of country do I want to live in?”

Grayson closed the forum saying, “There are essentially three candidates in this presidential election: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and staying at home. If you want to see change in our country, I encourage you to come out and vote. It does make a difference.”

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