The United States presidential race came to campus Thursday night with a lighthearted yet fiery mock debate featuring Bowdoin students representing each of the five remaining presidential candidates. 
Jointly moderated by Jack Lucy ’17 of the Bowdoin Republicans, Amanda Bennett ’17 of the Bowdoin Democrats and Noah Safian ’17, the debate touched on topics from immigration to climate change over the course of an hour and a half in Smith Union’s Morrell Lounge.

 “Our goal is to encourage discourse of ideas and provide a more active platform for engaging between different candidates ideas,” said Safian before the debate.

 Each candidate was played by a current Bowdoin student: Damian Ramsdell ’17 as Bernie Sanders, David Levine ’16 as Hillary Clinton, David Jimenez ’16 as John Kasich, Francisco Navarro ’19 as Ted Cruz and Jordan Moskowitz ’16 as Donald Trump. All students—with the exception of Navarro—were backers of their candidate.

Safian said that organizers approached several female students to play the role of Clinton. However, after the students declined, Levine took the role.

 The debate began with two minute opening statements, followed a series of questions asked by the moderators. 

With thick black glasses and a wig, Ramsdell took Sanders’ persona to heart—with numerous invectives against “millionaires and billionaires” delivered in a thick Brooklyn accent. 

At one point, he attacked Moskowitz’s Trump over his stance on targeting the families of terrorists. 
“You’re using the moral compass of a terrorist organization,” said Ramsdell.

 Moskowitz, in contrast, came equipped with a “Make America Great Again” hat and portrayed a calm Trump—albeit with the same signature hyperbole: “I’m a winner; I build things,” he said. 

Moskowitz was occasionally met with boos from the audience. However, his attack on Clinton’s handling of the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya was followed by much applause. 
Jimenez played an eloquent Kasich, weaving through fraught topics like same-sex marriage and immigration while making a case for “compassionate, pragmatic conservatism.” 

Next up—in what may have been a preview of general election debates to come—Levine’s Clinton went after Trump over his soft-handed approach to Putin. “He [Trump] is a bully,” she said. 

Finally, Navarro’s Cruz was notable for his strong arguments on religious liberty and abortion—which he dubbed the “genocide of our times.”

After the main question round, the debate continued with a speed round of questions unrelated to political policy. 

The audience discovered that Clinton preferred Crack to Red Brick, that Trump’s White House pet would be “a donkey named Hillary” and that Sanders preferred Moulton over Thorne because “like the average worker, [he] line serves there three times a week.” 

At the end of the debate, each student offered their thoughts on the candidate they represented.
 Jimenez joked about being known as the “Kasich guy” on campus, with his Kasich-sticker-adorned water bottle and his countless hours spent volunteering for the campaign in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts.

Navarro noted that, although he is not a Cruz supporter, he is a registered Republican—one “still mourning the exit of Marco Rubio from the race.”

Moskowitz spoke of “Trump’s devotion to the nation,” and Levine noted that Clinton “has a number of workable ideas that will actually make people’s lives better.”

And Ramsdell—in a line that seemed plucked straight out of a Bernie speech—closed with the assertion that “the only time real change happens is when people make it happen.”