Kids Debate the Debates

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Obama on Tuesday in their third and final debate

Cleo Cobbs says she learned a lot from watching Monday’s debate between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

“It’s good to be an informed voter so you can vote for the right person,” said Cleo, a fifth-grader at Bayless Elementary School in Lubbock, Texas, in an interview with the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

As of Wednesday, Cleo was still reportedly undecided about whom she’d vote for.

But at the very least, this year’s presidential debates have kids all over the country talking — and thinking — about the upcoming election.

And they’re learning a lot more about the issues President Obama and Governor Romney have been debating.

(Romney used to be governor of Massachusetts.)

“Jobs,” is what Chris Santiago is most interested in right now, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper.


“Because when I grow up, I want to have a job,” said Chris, an eighth-grader at Pine Hill Middle School in Pine Hill, New Jersey, in an interview with Inquirer reporter Carolyn Davis.

Pine Hill classmate Hailey Acevedo told the Inquirer she wants to know more about where the candidates stand on education.

And at Saint Margaret’s Regional School in Woodbury Heights, New Jersey, eighth-grader Daniel O’Shea told the South Jersey Times that watching the debates has become more popular than reality shows.

“The topics (such as) the economy, immigration and Afghanistan – I can understand that,” said Daniel, the eighth-grade student council president at Saint Margaret’s, in an interview with Times reporter Melissa DiPento.  “We talk about terrorist groups and how it endangers our families and America.”

At some schools, not only have kids been watching the debates.

They’ve also been re-enacting them.

At Horace Mann Middle School in Charleston, West Virginia, 13-year-old Zach Ihnat portrayed Governor Romney.

“I just hate when people make false promises,” Zach said while in character, according to the Charleston Daily Mail newspaper.

At South Waco Elementary School in Waco, Texas, fourth-grader Jamariyan Howlett played President Obama, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald.

“He’s smart,” Jamariyan told Tribune-Herald reporter Wendy Gragg.

After watching the debates, Pine Hill eighth-grader Cameron Johnson seems to be leaning toward supporting the President.

“Obama is trying to take the military out of Afghanistan,” Cameron told the Inquirer.  “We’ve been in there too long.”

And Pawcatuck, Connecticut, Middle School student Josh Abston reportedly expressed concerns about Governor Romney’s plan to cut taxes for everyone, including the wealthiest Americans.

“It’s going to get us in more debt, in my opinion,” said Josh, in an interview with The Day, his local newspaper.

Back in Lubbock, Bayless Elementary student Trevin Martin says he supports Governor Romney.

“Why not give the new guy a chance?” he told the Avalanche Journal.

So does Smithton Elementary School fourth-grader Matthew Thompson in Smithton, Missouri.

“I just think (he) and (Republican vice-presidential nominee) Paul Ryan will do a better job,” Matthew told the Sedalia Democrat newspaper.

Some kids were turned off by the debates.

“It gave me a headache because they kept going back and forth.  It was like kids in a playground,” said Mindjina Courage, a seventh-grader at Conniston Middle School in West Palm Beach, Florida, in an interview with West Palm Beach TV station WPBF.  “Even in the classroom we’re more mature than that.  So it’s kind of weird seeing two grown men acting like children.”

But other kids have come away with a new perspective on politics and the election.

“I learned that not everything is black and white,” said Carlie Petrus, an eighth-grader at George Rogers Clark Middle School in Whiting, Indiana, in an interview with the Times of Northwest Indiana.  “There are different sides.  And they have different beliefs.  And you have to pay attention to the way they word things.”

“It’s good because … we can choose our own views,” Saint Margaret’s eighth-grader Devin Morrison told the South Jersey Times.  “We need to be educated voters for the future.”