As the election cycle comes to an end, AU students are filling out absentee ballots and following the presidential debates in the hopes of seeing their candidate win the election this November. There are three Presidential debates total. Students Zil Joyce Dixon Romero and Jermall Keels watched the second debate and are eager to watch the third and final one this Wednesday, October 19th.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump went head-to-head last weekend on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis. Moderated by Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz, the two candidates responded to a series of questions regarding Obamacare, Islamophobia, taxes and Syria.
To start off the night, the candidates were asked if they felt they were a positive role model for today’s youth. Clinton responded by encouraging members of the general population to “lift each other up.” Additionally, she insisted on making sure that education is affordable and accessible.
“Hillary Clinton is an articulate candidate who provided in-depth responses,” College of Arts and Sciences freshman Romero said. “Her performance was strong, but she [was] weaker in comparison to the last debate.”
During Trump’s answer, he spoke of the United States’ trade deficit and of bringing respect to law enforcement. However, he made headlines before the debate even began, as he held a press conference with women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault or rape and then brought the women to the debate.
“Most of my negative views about Trump’s performance occurred in the beginning of the debate,” junior Keels of Kogod and SOC said. “To be honest, it was in the hour before the debate, when he held the press conference. It just all seemed like a political stunt. He seemed to be unhinged during the debate. He felt like everyone was against him.”
Cooper then asked Trump, “You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?”
“Though Trump did substantially better than he did in the first debate, he didn’t fully answer the questions,” Romero said.
Cooper continued to ask Trump about the tapes that were released the previous Friday, questioning his “locker room banter.” Though he claimed he was “not proud of it,”, he then changed the subject by bringing up Hillary’s email scandal, which spurred a heated exchange between the two candidates.
Though Keels identified Trump’s comment as unsettling, he thinks that Clinton did not perform as strongly as she did in the previous debate.
“Where I do think she didn’t counter as well is when Trump would bring up her emails,” Keels said. “However, going into it, she knew she would have to address the things her husband did. She was level-headed and did a good job of deflecting those attacks.”
Later, questions regarding Obamacare and Islamophobia were asked. Gorbah Hamed, an undecided Muslim voter asked the candidates, “With Islamophobia on the rise, how will you help people like me deal with the consequences of being labeled as a threat after this election is over?”
“I think those questions were pretty revealing about this election cycle,” Keels said. “The Islamophobia question reflects how afraid people are.”
The last question, from audience member Karl Becker, asked the candidates to name one positive thing that they like about each other. Clinton responded that she respected Trump’s children, while Trump claimed that Hillary never gives up.
“When I’m watching a debate, I’m looking for a great battle of verbal ideas between people who have great ideas,” Keels said. “This one was more about personality and was overshadowed by the political game. This was one of the darkest debates in U.S election history.”
Overall, both students said that this debate might have not had a major impact on the election. Both said that the leaked audio of Trump’s tapes overshadowed the impact of the second debate, putting the Republican Party in a hard position.
The third and final debate will be this Wednesday at 9 p.m., moderated by Chris Wallace of Fox News.
“For the next debate, the candidates should focus on better answering their respective questions,” Romero said. “Hopefully, it’ll go better.”