HARRISBURG — Wednesday night’s first presidential debate was not about who is going to be the next president to the 14 Southeastern Illinois College Forensics Falcons who gathered to watch it together in the home of forensic coaches Tyler and Jennifer Billman.
Rather, it was a study and analysis of delivery, strategy and whether Romney and Obama’s particular styles were effective.
“Romney was very persuasive. Obama takes a laid back approach,” said Nick Volkening of Galatia.
Nicole York of Omaha said she saw something revealing in the opening remarks from each candidate.
“Romney had a better opening speech. He looked much more prepared,” York said.
Zachary Hanks of Harrisburg was particularly attentive to the closing remarks of each.
“If you look at both of their closing arguments, Obama’s was concise and stuck to the topics of the debate. Romney went off in some weird land talking about unrelated topics. He was bringing up new things at the end. I wanted to hear him talk about what they debated about,” Hanks said.
Jeremiah Brown of Junction noticed Obama continually accusing Romney of a $5 million tax relief plan that the former Massachusetts governor denied ever stating. Brown said before the debate he predicted Romney to take the more aggressive approach.
“I expect Romney to come out with guns blazing and be charismatic. I think he will continue to bash Obama,” Brown said.
Moments before the debate began, Jennifer Billman told the students to pay particular attention to how the candidates displayed their likeability to the audience.
There were comments during the course of the debate about facial expressions, tone of voice and other speech inflexions.
Billman told the students also they would practice British parliamentary style, which allows for audience interaction and cheering or disagreeing vocally about things they didn’t like hearing or seeing during the debate.
When Romney said he favored utilizing coal as an energy resource, it immediately brought vocal responses from students, who recognize many in this area work, or did work, in that industry.
The SIC Forensics Falcons usually finish as one of the top five speech teams in the country during spring national community college competition. In 2012, the Forensics Falcons finished fourth in national competition.