Ohio State students looking to satisfy their political appetites have the opportunity to listen to academic and private-sector international affairs professionals debate the prospects of presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Moritz College of Law.
The event, held by Ohio State’s chapter of the Alexander Hamilton Society, is expected to focus on the candidates’ foreign policies that have fueled such a “heated and visceral” election cycle said Martin Lopez, a fourth-year in political science and the president of the Alexander Hamilton Society.
Nick Dowling — former director for European affairs at the National Security Council and current president of government contractor IDS International — will be debating in favor of Clinton. Opposing will be Randall Schweller, an OSU political science professor and a founder of the neoclassical realism school of thought in the field of international relations.
“One thing that we’re going to have to be careful about is that, given the nature of this election, there is probably going to be some degree of vindictiveness or hostility in some of the questioning (from the audience),” Lopez said. “And that is something we are probably going to try and temper.”
Dowling, who said he is not involved in Clinton’s campaign and that he is speaking on behalf of himself, said he will draw on his professional experience in foreign policy and national security.
“And in those areas, in particular, the strengths of Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump are profound,” Dowling said.
Schweller said that in regards to foreign policy, he believes Trump is more of a realist than any presidential candidate talking foreign policy in many years, though he also disagreed with some of Trump’s platforms.
“He is not the perfect vessel, but he might be the right guy at the right time,” Schweller said.
Schweller referred to Trump’s foreign policy as being somewhat state-centered, and one of “restraint, retrenchment and a return to offshore balancing.”
When confronting the notion of international cooperation, Schweller said he believes Trump will question the relative gains of any potential agreement. He said Trump will ask himself, “‘Who gains more from this, us or them?’ And if we don’t gain more, then he’s not going to do it.”
Dowling spoke less of Clinton’s foreign policy, but cited Trump’s temperament as a concern that should keep him out of the Oval Office.
Referring to him as a “bully,” Dowling said, “Do you want someone like that, with that temperament, with the nuclear codes and as commander in chief of our armed forces? I think that’s a very scary prospect.”
Regarding Clinton’s ability to handle foreign and domestic affairs as a senator, secretary of state and first lady, Schweller said he does not think her track record is indicative of any substantial past or future successes.
“You should be able to name at least 10, I think, 10 great accomplishments,” Schweller said. “I can’t think of a single thing she has ever accomplished.”
Though national tensions regarding the election have been high, Dowling said he expects the atmosphere and audience of the debate to be spirited, but not aggressive.
The first nationally televised presidential debate is slated for Sept. 26, with NBC’s Lester Holt set to moderate.