May 29, 2020

Students have strong reactions to second presidential debate

In a hotly anticipated second presidential debate, candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton took the stage at Washington University in St. Louis to make the case for their campaigns.

Washington University has hosted more presidential and vice presidential debates than any other institution. This time, however, the debate was especially newsworthy.

Webster University hosted a debate watching party in Sunnen Lounge as part of their “Webster Votes” program, sponsored by the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Multicultural Center and International Student Association (MCISA). Around 40 people attended the event.

The debate featured a town hall format in which undecided voters from around the St. Louis area had the opportunity to ask the candidates questions. Most of the content, however, was decided by moderators Martha Raddatz of ABC and Anderson Cooper of CNN.

The debate opened with questions about Trump’s taped remarks and covered the territory of many other scandals, including Trump’s avoidance of paying federal income taxes and Clinton’s leaked remarks in which she said it is sometimes necessary to have “a public position and a private position.”

Sophomore film and political science major Zoe Burton, who attended the watch party, said she was disappointed by the tone of the debate.

“Typically, debates like this are a little more respectable,” Burton said. “There was definitely more petty remarks, insults, mudslinging, and that’s not what it’s supposed to be about. A town hall’s supposed to be about the people and the questions that we sincerely have about the people that are going to be running our country.”

While Burton said both of the candidates could have behaved better during the debate, she is supporting Clinton.

“If you’re still an undecided voter, something’s wrong with you,” Burton said.

For music major Emmanuel Jones-Harris, a music major and Clinton supporter, the final question made the greatest impression. A voter asked Clinton and Trump to each say something positive about each other.

“For Hillary it wasn’t that hard to come up with a positive thing to say about Donald Trump, but he really seemed to have a problem with it,” Jones-Harris said. “This is just all so surreal.”

Katie Stevens, a secondary education major, is also supporting Clinton.

“Something that I noticed the whole time is that when they had the uncommitted voter questions, when Hillary Clinton would answer the uncommitted voter questions she would speak to that person,” Stevens said. “Donald Trump didn’t do that, and I picked up on that. I’m sure the people in the room picked up on that.”

We asked two politically engaged Webster students for their views on how the debate went. Here are their impressions of who won.

Andrew Young, Clinton supporter and Treasurer of the College Democrats

Overall, it was an interesting exchange of views between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Both candidates put on a good show and it was a good thing to watch.

Starting with Trump, he handled the town hall better than the previous debate, even though he did still have issues with his performance that could have been better. He also focused more on blaming Clinton for current problems rather than focusing on how to fix them. I disliked his response about the audio tapes that were released a few days ago about his “locker room talk.” He shifted the view to something else and tried to treat it like there are more worse things to worry about. Trump also had issues with interruption and not answering the questions, but the moderators did a good job with holding him to an answer.

Clinton did well, but I believe that voters are holding her to higher standards than Trump, which is understandable. I liked how she would have a rebuttal to Trump’s claims while using facts and statistics to answer the questions being asked. She used more truth than her opponent, but sadly, the majority of voters are not looking at that. The big thing that is noticed is how the candidates convey their message.

While I am a supporter for Clinton, Trump did good enough to hold onto his Republican candidate nomination. I believe that Hillary Clinton won the town hall at Washington University.

Alexandrea Martin, Trump supporter
I think Trump came out in top. He dealt with the moderators giving more time to Hillary, them also debating him as well, he dealt so well with the scandal but reiterating his apology as well as tying it back to a personal mistake. I think he best Hillary on connecting with the American people. She seemed to talk in circles and not really directly answer questions. She also lied about her Benghazi situation as well as her email gate. I think Trump did an amazing job of bouncing back after the last 48 hours. He was able to respond eloquently. The most pivotal point of the night to me personally, was the question asked by an undivided voter that regarded “Could you say something nice about the either”? Hillary complimented his CHILDREN, not Trump. Trump showed strong we character to be able to compliment her. He said she was a fighter, hard worker among others. She only managed to reference his kids. I think regarding character? That shows a lot.

What was the most bothersome was the lack of unbiased moderating by Anderson and Martha. Trump called them out on giving her more time and more chances to respond. I think it shows quite a bit about the motives of the media in this election.

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