By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, October 13, the Democratic Contenders for the Presidency will gather in Los Vegas, Nevada for their first debate, which is being televised by CNN.
The University of Alabama College Democrats are sponsoring a debate party for students at the University of Alabama who are interested in becoming more involved in Democratic politics.
The group announced on their Facebook Page: “We’re having a debate watch party with Honors College! Come out, have some pizza, and watch your favorite Democratic candidate or learn about the platforms of all the Democratic candidates.”
The debate watching party will be held in Lloyd Hall Room 119 at 7:30 pm.
The first Democratic debate of the 2016 Presidential Campaign features former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, US Senator Jim Webb (D-Virginia) and Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee.
Hillary Clinton is a former Secretary of State, US Senator, and First Lady. She has been the Democratic frontrunner throughout this campaign. Revelations that she used a private email server while the Secretary of State and questions about the Clinton Foundation have come up. To this point no one has been indicted for anything and if that remains the case will the voters care when they vote? Hillary hopes to be the first woman nominated by a major political party in American History and ultimately the first woman president.
To this point the main challenger in the polls has been Bernie Sanders, who has strong support from the ideological left. The outspoken independent from Vermont is popular with younger and less mainstream voters. He says that the rich should pay higher taxes and the poor should receive higher wages. He is attacking Clinton from the Democratic Party’s Left much like Ted Cruz and the Republican Right are attacking their more mainstream GOP ‘establishment’ candidates. Sanders is drawing very large crowds at a level only equaled by GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump.
Former Governor Martin O’Malley has to make a move soon if he is going to be a factor in the race. The Blue State Governor has a track record of actually governing. He is seen as less corporate than Clinton and less ideological than Sanders.
Former Virginia senator Jim Webb is the moderate in the race. He supports the Keystone Pipeline and has been critical of President Obama’s Iran deal. He was an early opponent of the Iraq War which Hillary voted for while in the Senate. He was also President Ronald Reagan’s Navy Secretary.
Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee has been a Democrat, a Republican, and an independent over his career as a US Senator. Chafee’s Republican father was a Rhode Island Governor, Nixon’s Secretary of the Navy, and a US Senator from 1976 until his death in 1999. The younger Chafee was appointed to fill his father’s seat. He won re-election to the Senate in 2000; but was defeated in 2006. Chafee became an independent and supported President Obama in 2008. Chafee run successfully for the office of Governor as an independent in 2010 and switched to the Democratic Party in 2013, but did not seek a second term as Governor. Like Webb and O’Malley he is not really registering a lot of support in early polling.
The 800 pound gorilla who is not in this race is Vice President Joe Biden. The VP and former US Senator from Delaware spent the past weekend in Delaware with his family. He has yet to announce whether or not he will seek the office of the President; but he is running out of town.
In Alabama to even get on the ballot you have to collect signatures from registered voters in the State and those are due in the Alabama Secretary of State office by the close of qualifying on November 6. Georgia requires that candidates send a letter declaring their candidacy to the state party, which passes forward a slate of candidates for the Super Tuesday Primary on March 1. Texas, Arkansas and New Hampshire have early November deadlines.
President Obama said, “I think Joe will go down as one of the finest vice presidents in history and one of the more consequential. I think he has done great work. I don’t think there’s any politician at a national level that has not thought about being the president. And if you’re sitting next to the president in every meeting and, you know, wrestling with these issues, I’m sure that for him he’s saying to himself, ‘I could do a really good job.’”
Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump predicted that the Democratic debate would be “boring.”
(Original reporting by CNN, USA Today, and Fox News contributed to this report.)