|Republican Seth Grossman (left) and Jeff Van Drew (right) debate controversial topics at Stockton University.|
(Photo Credits: Sierra Estremera)
By Raghu Jhala
Stockton University’s Campus Center Theater recently held a debate between Democrat Jeff Van Drew and Republican Seth Grossman. Both candidates were eager to establish their position by appealing to their respective audiences. It was obvious at the event there was a clear divide between social, economic, and state policy when addressing debate topics. The crowd was asked multiple times throughout the debate to hold their applause but the rule was not respected by anyone.
The opening statements from the candidates helped cement what the two were bringing to the table. Jeff Van Drew’s opening statement was about the future of America and how he honestly believed the news has turned America into a reality show. “I believe in the way that I work, in the beliefs that I have, I'm going to have the ability to bring us together, to work hard, to make sure that Republicans and Democrats, together, ensure a better future for South Jersey, New Jersey, and the United States of America.” The flares of Obama-era politics rang very true to those who were already invested in their candidate Van Drew.
Candidate Seth Grossman stood true to his colors, the red, white and blue, with his opening statement. From the red corner, our Republican candidate hailed allegiance to President Donald Trump, and swore to expose and “clean the swamp,” where the Democrats use fake media to defame President Trump and his administration. “I support President Trump to keep good-paying, full-time jobs, and full employment here in America. That's why I support the Trump tax cuts, trade deals, and the ending of Obama's war on American business. I will vote to equally and impartial enforce our immigration laws, to build the wall and punish, not reward sanctuary cities and states.
The audience was silent and the air felt thin, while each candidate was eager to establish why they were the better candidate. Questions of how to stimulate job growth in South Jersey and immigration laws helped everyone in the room see these two as the embodiment of the 2016 Presidential Election.
Van Drew pleaded for togetherness, rebuilding, and maintaining law and order, which Grossman countered with accusations about how the Democrat and his party has mishandled money and their political powers. Grossman declares, “The idea that that people who are here illegally have some sort of right to stay here, to get driver's licenses, to be included in the census, as Mr. Van Drew voted for so sanctuary cities get more money and more representation; that's as ridiculous is saying that somebody who robs a bank can keep the money if they make it off the bank parking lot, and then they get the free food and everything else.” These remarks, the clear logic, and unapologetic delivery prompted applause, quickly putting Van Drew on the defensive.
Every question was a roller coaster ride as each candidate deployed logic or used emotion to appeal to their audiences, and retorted with allegations accusing each other of wrong-doing. The event no doubt impacted the small South Jersey ecosystem of Stockton and the Atlantic County. Only time will tell who will win on Nov 6 and represent South Jersey in the 2nd Congressional District.