Twenty-four hours, two presidential candidates.
President Barack Obama visited the University of Miami Thursday, less than 24 hours after presidential candidate Mitt Romney stood on the same stage.
“I haven’t gotten everything done that I need to get done, and that’s why I’m running for a second term,” Obama said to a crowd of 700.
Univision journalists Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas asked Obama about a range of issues, focusing on those of interest to the Latino community. Questions were asked in Spanish and simultaneously translated for Obama, who answered in English.
Although the anchors drilled Obama about not completing his promises in regard to immigration reform, sophomore Brandon Barsky thought Obama delivered a good response.
“He talked about the lack of bipartisanship on the part of Congressional Republicans,” said Barsky, who is a member of UM Young and College Democrats. “This has been a big problem because it seems that everything he passes they vote down because it was passed by a Democrat.”
Both visits were part of Univision broadcasts. The decision to hold the events in the BankUnited Center Fieldhouse was based on considerations about the taping of the show. Thursday’s event with Obama will air at 10 p.m. on the Spanish-language station.
Rudy Fernandez, vice president for government affairs, thinks the events allowed students to actively engage with the election, which is rare for a university.
“We believe it’s a very unique experience to have the two presidential candidates on campus within a 24-hour period,” he said. “The benefits for the university community, and for the students that get to partake in it, outweigh the problems and are certainly worth the amount of work that goes into hosting one of these events.”
Although both events were conducted in similar formats, there were several differences:
- Romney’s session with the journalist lasted 35 minutes, while Obama’s lasted an hour.
- Romney’s audience was far more vocal.
- The Romney event was not opened up to a lottery for student tickets.
Sophomore Janelle De La Torre, who volunteers for the Romney campaign, believes the anchors were biased toward Obama.
“It’s a very liberal news station, and I didn’t appreciate the way they stated and directed the questions at Governor Romney,” she said. “I believe everyone who spoke Spanish and understood the questions would agree with me.”
Like for Romney’s event, the Obama campaign guaranteed student tickets to members of certain organizations, such as UM Young and College Democrats. However, the remainder of the tickets were distributed through a lottery.
“They wanted us to give preference to Young Democrats and College Democrats, but there wasn’t that level of insistence in terms of ‘Make sure every ticket goes to Young Democrats and College Democrats,’” Fernandez said. “They were less concerned about it.”
Approximately 375 students attended the event. Barsky estimated that 20 were members of UM Young and College Democrats. The remaining tickets were distributed by Univision and the Obama campaign.
“As for the lottery process, I think more students should have gotten tickets because there were a lot of community members,” Barsky said. “That’s all well and good, but they’re not paying over $50,000 to attend the university.”
To accommodate students who could not attend, the university held a watch party in the UC on Thursday, as they did during the Romney event on Wednesday night.