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Presidential surrogates to debate national security

Students will have a chance to hear from two experts on foreign policy Wednesday at a surrogate presidential debate on the Tempe campus.

Obama campaign national security adviser Janine Davidson and Romney campaign adviser Dov S. Zakheim will stand in for the presidential candidates to debate foreign policy.

The New America Foundation, a nonpartisan public policy institute in Washington, D.C., approached ASU’s D.C. office about hosting the event, University Innovation Fellow Alicia Fremling said.

She said they decided to go to ASU because Arizona’s international border means national security is an issue here.

“It’s an important conversation to be having,” Fremling said.

She said the American Enterprise Institute, a politically right-leaning policy group, worked with the Romney campaign to identify a top expert.

The Center for a New American Security, a politically left-leaning policy group, worked with the Obama campaign to choose their representative.

Both surrogates will speak on behalf of the campaign, she said.

Fremling said the debaters will likely tie in the Sept. 11 death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya and what implications it may have.

She said they will address questions such as whether defense is the best way to go about national security and what the candidates’ foreign policy plans are.

The debate is the fifth in a series of debates being held by the New American Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute and the Center for a New American Security.

Mechanical engineering junior Jake Gunnoe said he would like to ask the surrogates how the candidates planned to be involved in nations like Libya.

He said he likes how President Barack Obama responded to the Libyan riots.

“It was the best way we could have handled it,” he said. “I like how (Obama) speaks. His actions don’t really show how he has handled Iraq.”

He said he doesn’t agree with Mitt Romney’s stance on national security either.

“Romney’s foreign policy is the reason why I wouldn’t vote for him,” he said.

Gunnoe said he doesn’t think the U.S. should spend money on the military when the economy is where it is.

Political science professor Rodolfo Espino said one of the most pressing international issues are the uprisings across the Middle East.

He said in the past few years, there has been a switch from authoritarian government to democracies.

He said the U.S. needs to look at what its role in this change is.

“Republicans seem to want to be the first one in,” Espino said.

On the other hand, he said, Obama has been criticized for “leading from behind.”

Espino said another key issue for residents of Arizona is relations with Mexico.

He said he would like to ask the debaters what each candidate would do regarding the newly elected president of Mexico.

The surrogate presidential debate is being held at the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology building on Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and is open to all ASU students.


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