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Bush, Kerry talk economy in last debate

The agenda for the third and final presidential debate tonight could be the factor that will win the ticket for either candidate: the economy and domestic policy.

According to USF political science Professor Kiki Caruson, all Sen. John Kerry has to do is point out the weaknesses in the current economic situation, while President George W. Bush must spin the same information and point out the positives.

“The state of the economy is the best indicator of presidential elections. Even in an instance of war that can weaken that effect, people in general vote on pocketbook issues,” Caruson said.

She added that when people vote, they look to see if they are better off than last year. On that alone, many Americans would be displeased with Bush’s record on job creation. Bush is the first president to have a net loss in jobs since Herbert Hoover.

USF political science professor Kennan Ferguson thinks if Bush can show how American security is closely linked to domestic issues he will win the debate. Kerry, he said, needs to show all the negative aspects, such as the stock market dropping, the federal deficit increase, the price hikes in gasoline and lost jobs.

Simply put, Ferguson said, “Kerry needs to show that he can do a better job.”

Along with job loss and creation, tax cuts and the federal deficit will most likely be issues on the forefront.

Although most polls show Bush and Kerry tied just weeks before the Nov. 2 election, USF political science professor Festus Ohaegbulam believes Kerry has an edge over Bush in this particular debate.

“Kerry has a better chance of making a serious argument against the economy right now,” he said, “American people have to analyze promises made and not kept (by the Bush administration) such as job creation and economic recovery … the economy is not going anywhere.”

Ohaegbulam believes the problem with this whole election is that it focuses too much on strategy and political trickery rather than getting a genuine explanation from Bush on why his record is so poor.

He also thinks young voters should care about this election because the lack of support by Congress to do the right thing is daunting.

“If Congress would have actually done its job and asked questions, no one person would have led this country into war. Whether Congress will act on our behalf is wishful thinking,” Ohaegbulam said.

Caruson does not believe either candidate has an edge and thinks the debate will end in a draw unless there is a blunder, like more unwarranted facial expressions by Bush. She said young voters should care about this debate because it is important to be part of the political process.

Students should be concerned about the debate tonight because it is the only one that affects them directly, said Ferguson.

“Student loans, unemployment, the cost of cars and houses and entertainment all affect students directly,” Ferguson said.

Tuition is increasing every year. Ohaegbulam added, “Students should be careful and consider what’s best for this country, not just one individual group.”

The debate tonight will be held at Arizona State University at 9 and moderated by Bob Schieffer, a CBS correspondent.