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Kaufman and Kmiec Debate Presidential Nominees


Pepperdine professors Robert Kaufman, a John McCain supporter, and Douglas Kmiec, a Barack Obama supporter, will defend their preferred presidential nominees during a debate on Monday, Oct. 13. School of Public Policy dean James R. Wilburn will moderate the debate, which begins at 7 p.m. in Smothers Theatre on the Malibu campus.

The debate promises to be a compelling and thought-provoking exploration of the different decisions Democrat Obama and Republican McCain would make for the country as president. Kaufman and Kmiec will argue key issues in November's election, including abortion, gay marriage, foreign policy, the economy, and international terrorism.

"I'm hoping that Pepperdine students and guests at the debate will see that Pepperdine conducts its debates in an informed, civilized fashion, with humor, good will, and seriousness," says Kaufman. "Kmiec is a fine man and scholar. Though I disagree with his opinions and judgment, I respect him."

Both professors have been publicly outspoken about their political perspectives. Kaufman, professor of public policy, is a long-time conservative who endorsed the politics of outgoing president George W. Bush in his book, In Defense of the Bush Doctrine (University Press of Kentucky 2008).

Likewise Kmiec, Caruso Family Chair in Constitutional Law, is a long-time Catholic conservative who decided this year to endorse and support Obama. After announcing his decision in February 2008, he was infamously denied Communion in April for supporting a nominee who is not anti-abortion. This incident prompted him to author his book Can a Catholic Support Him? Asking the Big Question about Barack Obama (Overlook Press 2008).

About his decision to support Illinois senator Obama, Kmiec, originally from Chicago, said, "One of the things I kept discovering was that Obama was sounding more Catholic than most Catholics I know. And by coming to Chicago and wanting to lend a hand to people who were down on their luck, he earned a lot of credit in my book."

"McCain has the most compelling vision for what we need to do to defend freedom from our enemies," counters Kaufman, about his decision to support the Arizona senator. Of Monday's debate, he adds, "Doug and I will talk about two competing visions for this world. With humor and good will neither of us will give an inch!"

The debate, free to attend, will be hosted by the Pepperdine School of Public Policy, School of Law, The Malibu Times, Westlake Village Republican Women Federated, and Malibu Republican Women Federated. For more information, please contact the School of Public Policy, or call (310) 506-7497.