Debate or debacle?
By Emma Smith
On Tuesday evening when many Americans stayed glued to their screens watching the first Presidential Debate of 2020, University of Findlay students had the opportunity to watch it together on campus.
The showing occurred in real time in the Brewer Center for Health Sciences (BCHS) Lecture Hall. The event went form 8:30 to 11:30 p.m. and was hosted as part of a larger initiative on campus to bring awareness to voting on campus.
Director of Service and Community Engagement at the Buford Center for Diversity and Service at UF Crystal Weitz says they have a Campus Election Engagement Fellow is a student who is focused on getting students registered to vote, educated about voting, and getting them to actually go vote. UF’s student for this is Hannah Willingham.
“I think the event went well,” Willingham said in an email interview.
The feeling in the room before the debate was anxious but mostly eager. Many of the
students who attended the event said they wanted to learn more about both candidates’ platform and policies before deciding who to vote for on Election Day.
Emily Henthorn, sophomore at the University of Findlay was one of those students.
“My expectations [going into the debates] are to hear some of the policies, since I know Trumps but haven’t heard a lot from Biden other than what the Obama campaign policies were,” Henthorn said.
Like most of America no students expected the debate to go as it did with lots of interruptions and very little ability to hear clear answers from the candidates and clear questions from the moderator.
Chris Wallace a Fox News Sunday Anchor was the moderator for the debate. He either was unable to finish his question without being interrupted by either candidate or spent his time trying to keep them to their time limit.
When asked about the most recent controversy, the selection of the Supreme Court Nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump answered, “very simply we won the election, elections have consequences and have control over the Supreme Court”.
He also raved about Barrett’s ability to do the job she is currently nominated for, adding that one of her Notre Dame Law School professors told him she was the single greatest student he has ever had.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, disagreed with selecting a Supreme Court Justice right now and wants to wait until after the election is complete. He said the American people need to be heard on the issue and it’s too close to the election.
Wallace asked about the likelihood of a vaccination for the current coronavirus sweeping the nation and the world. Trump’s answer included a statement that there was a plan to deliver the vaccine right away via the military. The AP reports the Pentagon says it is the CDC’s responsibility to execute a plan to give vaccines to the public.
This topic lead to masking wearing and Joe Biden ridiculed President Trump’s own policy on wearing masks.
“I will put a mask on it when I think I need it tonight everybody’s had a test and you had social distancing and all of the things,” Trump said. “Joe shows up to speaking events with the biggest masks I’ve ever seen.”
Biden has mentioned time and time again that he does not feel President Trump is handling the coronavirus properly, the debate was no different.
“He [Donald Trump] has been totally irresponsible in the way he has handled the social distancing,” Biden said in regards to Trump continuing to have large rallies during his campaign.
Trump’s tax records were also brought into question Tuesday evening. This was met with no clear answer from Trump on whether he paid $750 in federal taxes in the years 2016 and 2017 or not.
“I pay millions of dollars of income tax,” Trump said. “Go to every bank, I’m totally under leveraged because the assets are extremely good,” Trump said.
It was clear to everyone at the UF event that Biden wanted Americans watching this debate to feel like he was in the room with him, he made eye contact with the cameras, spoke to the public, tried to relate to their struggles and show Americans his hard-working story.
When the debate ended, many students at the watch party looked around with faces of pure shock.
“Both of them were unprofessional which was disappointing. I feel like they didn’t touch much on their individual policies,” Henthorn said. “They mostly focused on tearing each other’s policies down, which doesn’t really help voters.”
Willingham is optimistic about bringing more attention to the next watch party.
“We all had a really good time watching the debate together and hope to do the same for the upcoming debates,” Willingham said. “It will be over Zoom…but I hope to start getting the word out ASAP.”
The Vice Presidential debate is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 7, 8:30-11:30 p.m. and students can again join a watch party in Frost Science Center in the Malcolm Lecture Hall.