Former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft watches the first gubernatorial debate with University of Dayton students on Wednesday. The debate took place at UD.

Ohio Governor’s Debate: UD students react to first debate

Former Gov. Bob Taft — who occupied the governor’s mansion from 1999 through 2006 — joined 30 or so UD students Wednesday in the university’s Center for Leadership at the Daniel J. Curran Place on the school’s river campus.

The debate, between Democrat Richard Cordray and Republican candidate and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, took place in a different room of the same building. The debate was hosted by UD and Cox Media Group Ohio, the parent company of the Dayton Daily News and WHIO-TV, was the presenting media partner.

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“For the students here this is just an unbelievable opportunity to be right up close with the candidates and understand what politcial combat is all about, understand what running for office is all about,” Taft said. “A lot of these students are interested in politics themselves but this is going to, I think, hopefully motivate them to want to enter politics.”

Cordray’s delivery was smooth, Taft said, and the Democrat probably “scored some points” for going on the attack against DeWine. Taft said DeWine did a good job of explaining his opposition to Issue 1 and why he is against legalizing recreational marijuana in Ohio.

Tania Boh, a UD senior from West Virginia who is studying political science, was one of the students who joined Taft on Wednesday for the debate.

Boh said she would have liked the candidates to talk more about the opioid crisis that has “exploded” in recent years. The issue is of particular interest to Boh because it’s something that bleeds across the state border from Ohio to West Virginia, she said.

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“I would say they’re both very polar opposites,” Boh said of the candidates. “But, I really…wished they would have centered the debate a little more about what it is they want to do rather than attacking each other.”

The debate featured some stinging attacks from each candidate but afterward sarcasm and bipartisanship was on full display in the room where the student watch party was taking place. Cordray stopped by the party to visit with students and while he was there, shook hands with Taft.

“I’m going to need some advice after the election, Bob,” Cordray joked.

Taft replied: “I’m available, I’m just here hanging out at UD.”

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