James Buckley is 18, a freshman at Queens University of Charlotte, and plans to cast his first presidential vote for Republican Mitt Romney.
Tuesday, the newly registered Republican joined a bipartisan crowd of Queens students in Ketner Auditorium on campus to watch the second of three debates between President Barack Obama and Romney.
When the debate was over, Buckley said Obama succeeded in what he set out to do:
“He stopped the bleeding from the first debate,” said Buckley, of New Canaan, Conn. “To me, they spent most of the debate trying sink the other’s ship. I believe when they stayed on task and answered the questions, Gov. Romney delivered the facts a little clearer.
“But it’s clear that he lost this debate.”
Queens junior Taylor Pinckney, 20, of Columbia, saw Tuesday’s debate the same way.
Pinckney, a newly registered Democrat, is set to cast her first presidential vote, and felt Obama did what he had to do to stop Romney’s surge in the polls after the president’s weak performance in the first debate two weeks ago.
“President Obama was very decisive with his answers, very presidential,” Pinckney said. “I think he definitely elaborated on his plans and created a contrast between him and Mitt Romney.
“He stopped Romney’s momentum.”
It didn’t matter whom they supported – or if they were undecided going into Tuesday’s debate – most of the students felt Obama took round two.
As polls tightened after the first debate, Obama needed a strong performance to stop Romney’s momentum, particularly in battleground states such as North Carolina.
Queens freshman Evan Ruhling, a registered Republican from Pittsburgh, Pa., who voted for Romney on Monday by absentee ballot, said both candidates went “at each other’s throats” – often without answering the questions.
But he felt that Obama likely stemmed Romney’s momentum.
“He was much more aggressive and more assertive,” Ruhling said. “I still support Romney – but Obama did what he had to do.”
Four years ago, Obama carried North Carolina by just over 14,000 votes, his narrowest margin of victory in any state. In Mecklenburg, however, he won nearly 62 percent of the vote.
Though Romney is ahead in North Carolina in most polls, the state is still considered a toss-up.
The Obama campaign appears to be targeting college students at N.C. schools. On Tuesday, Michelle Obama stumped for her husband at UNC Chapel Hill.
Before the debate, Queens political science professors Margaret Commins and Mark Kelso led a discussion on the presidential race.
“It’s an effort to get these students engaged in the political process,” Commins said.
Russell Humphries, a junior from Savannah, Ga., and a staunch Obama supporter, said Obama did a good job of “reaffirming what he’s done for the American people.”
Romney, he said, stumbled on a couple of issues, including “criticizing the incumbent on national security” so close to the terrorist attack in Libya that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
“It was a blatant political attack,” Humphries said.
Queens junior Nizar Kuseybi from Greensboro is a registered Democrat, but still undecided after Tuesday’s second debate.
Two weeks ago, he leaned toward Romney after the former Massachusetts governor’s strong showing in the first debate.
Tuesday night, he was leaning for Obama.
“It was a very aggressive debate and I really saw both their views better than in the last debate,” Kuseybi said.
“I feel like President Obama did much better. He really talked about policies and issues that affected me, that I was hoping to hear him talk about.
“He changed my view on his leadership. I think the debate changed the tide of this election.”