By: Angelique Arintok | Courtesy of Fourth Estate, Mason’s official student newspaper.
On Wednesday, Sept. 26th, Democratic incumbent for Virginia’s contested Senate seat Tim Kaine, and Republican challenger Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart, tackled timely issues in a debate moderated by NBC’s Meet the Press host Chuck Todd and hosted by Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government. The hour-long event sparked conversation about topics like immigration, inquiry of impeachment, confederate statues, the Equal Rights Amendment and transportation.
For Stewart and Kaine, takes on the issues polled are on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Wednesday’s debate made it clear just how different both candidates view certain issues, particularly immigration. In a press conference following the debate, both candidates passionately shared their opinions on the matter.
“There is a big difference between someone who comes here lawfully, supports their family, doesn’t have a criminal background, and somebody who crosses the border illegally and commits crimes,” Stewart said.
Shortly after saying the United States is a nation of immigrants, Kaine further explained, “I am going to fight for the community … and comprehensive reform, and if Corey Stewart becomes Senator, he will always fight against the [immigrant] community.”
The candidates are divided on this matter, but junior communication major Paula Morales believes immigration is the most critical issue coming into this election.
“The issue deals with so much, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) [and more],”Morales said. “The Trump administration is just going to keep passing laws that’ll keep separating families, creating an even larger fear and distrust for the government.”
Stewart is determined that his approach is the best way. Many times throughout the live debate, he referred to how “he [will] stir things up.”
Stewart notes that he wishes to work across ethnic and racial lines to accomplish what’s needed if elected. Kaine contrasted his campaign to Stewart’s, saying it follows an “upbeat theme.”
The two candidates may hold drastically different ideals, but both consider the Senate seat as an avenue to compromise with the opposing party. Student voters are certain which issues will carry them to the polls. Now, it’s simply a matter of selecting which candidate aligns with their personal values and beliefs.