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Mock Presidential Debate Draws on Current Events

Several of the questions from a panel of Malibu journalists focused on the violent protests in Islamic countries.

Nearly 200 people came out Wednesday for a mock presidential debate featuring two Pepperdine University professors as part of an effort to excite Malibu voters about the upcoming election.

Dr. Robert G. Kaufman represented the Mitt Romney position and Dr. Dan Caldwell spoke for the President Barack Obama position at the nearly two-hour event at Pepperdine.

The debate was split up into two sections focusing on domestic and foreign policy with questions from a panel of local journalists. Rabbi Levi Cunin of Chabad Malibu moderated the event, which was put on by the Malibu Bel-Air Republican Women Federated and the Malibu Democratic Club.

The professors began with statements about their perspectives about the positions of Romney and Obama.

"I'll be addressing my comments about a man whose father was born in a different country, who is a member of a previously persecuted minority group, who attended Harvard University, who achieved financial success, who is a good father and husband and who has also faced medical crisis in his family," Caldwell said. "Yes, I'm talking about Mitt Romney and yes, I'm talking about Barack Obama.

"It was striking to me as I prepared for this debate how many similarities the presidential candidates have in common and yet the similarities stop there."

In answering questions about foreign policy on the Middle East, both men offered different solutions to Iran's push for nuclear weapons and the fallout from the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed earlier this month during a violent protest in Libya.

Caldwell said he believed the U.S. has ways to pressure the Egyptian government to crack down on protesters by controlling nearly $2 billion in foreign aid to that country.

He also addressed the YouTube video that sparked protests in some Islamic countries.

"As a Christian, I find it enormously offensive to portray Muhammad as a womanizer, homosexual and pedophile. I'm not excusing the violence here, but try to imagine Jesus Christ being portrayed the same way. How would Christians feel about that?" Caldwell said, causing the crowd to break out in whispers.

Kaufman pointed to the existing anti-Christian and anti-Semitic messages that already exist on Muslim airways.

"Jews and Christians do not shoot people when that happens," Kaufman said, getting applause from the audience. "It's a double standard."

He added the United States has nothing to apologize for.

On the topic of Iran, Caldwell praised the Obama's approach of not taking a hard stance on Iran's work to develop nuclear weapons.

"Therefore he has maintained American options regarding Iran," Caldwell said.

The professor said the War in Iraq and Afghanistan has claimed enough lives and the U.S. should be wary of any use of force.

"An invasion of Iran would be the height of folly, and not only folly but tragedy," Caldwell said.

Kaufman said the U.S. has little choice but to use force if necessary.

"We either tolerate Iran with nuclear weapons or we take them out. The Romney administration will make the right decision about the use of force ... because the consequence of Iran getting nuclear weapons will be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East," Kaufman said.

A video of the mock debate will be posted in the coming days.

Ted Vaill September 20, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Check out my article on "20 Questions for Mitt No One Will Ask" published in the September 12,2012 issue of LAProgressive.com for questions not asked in this forum.
Tema Merback September 20, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Why wasn't security beefed up at our embassies in anticipation of 9/11 considering the date & the heightened possibilities of violence. The excuse of a vidio that was released in July is pathetic! This was a failure of leadership & Presidential duty.
John Mazza September 20, 2012 at 05:22 PM
This was a well organized event. The journalists did a good job, the professors were well prepared, Rabbi Cunin was funny as usual and Mari Stanley did a great job of keeping everything on track.
Jason M September 20, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Leaners yes we need what's called leaners. A lot of them out there.

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