The Republican Presidential candidates meet opposition at USF debate

01/24/12 Atecia Robinson
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The Republican Presidential debate at the University of South Florida was crucial for those four candidates, but many groups oppose their agenda. Hundreds flooded the campus to fight back against the positions of candidates on immigration, LGBT issues and tuition hikes.

Outside USF’s administration building more than 200 people held up signs. Some shouted speeches through bullhorns before marching to the site of the debate. The groups were greeted and riled up by Dustin Ponter from Students for a Democratic Society. He said the American people should have a say in politics.

Ashley Perry from Occupy Tampa agreed with Ponter. She has never voted because she says recent candidates have all been a joke.

Many of the protestors were students and teachers affected by school budget cuts. One is state coordinator of the Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Reverend Charles Mackenzie. He said he is concerned about Newt Gingrich’s stance on education.

Shannon Mcenteer with UCF’s Student Labor Action Project has a 4.0 GPA. She said she is also upset at cuts to student funding.

Kofi Hunt from Awake Pinellas said he opposes the Republican candidates. He hopes to see Obama win in November’s election.

Fight Back Florida, an activist organization comprised of students and young workers also protesting the GOP candidates. Dave Schnieder, the state organizer, said he sees he Republicans as attacks on families and unions.

Terry Jones, the controversial Gainesville pastor who burned the Quran last year, marched with about twenty people in support of Israel. Even though he thought the Republican candidates would damage the country, he supports building a fence on the US-Mexico border.

Some of the anti-GOP protesters got into verbal tussles with members of the pro-Israel group, but there was no violence or arrests. Several of the groups protesting the debate plan on a major demonstration during the Republican National Convention, which will be in Tampa this August.

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