‘I Couldn’t Believe What I Was Watching’ Students React To First Presidential Debate


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CLEVELAND, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 29: U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the first of three planned debates leading up to the election. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Ryan Brooks, Assistant News Editor

Though it was anticipated to be a tense environment during the first 2020 general election debate, most of those who viewed the event were left uninformed, shocked and “outright disgusted.” While there was a lot to address from the debate, some Connecticut college students had a lot to say about the “inappropriate” actions and behavior of the candidates that night.

“The tone of the debate was disgusting and depressing,” Cameron Clarke, Central Connecticut senior, said. “While I knew that this debate would be low quality, I did not anticipate it to turn south so quickly.”

Clarke was not alone. According to a CBS News poll taken after the debate, 83 percent of viewers thought the tone of the debate was negative, and 69 percent of viewers “felt annoyed” by the end of the night.

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden exchanged increasingly personal verbal blows, including attacks on financial history, political careers and mockery of each other’s families, specifically against Biden’s son, Hunter.

“I know Hunter, Hunter got thrown out of the military, He was thrown out, dishonorably discharged for cocaine use, and he didn’t have a job until you became vice president,” Trump stated during the debate. Biden denied these allegations, while also jabbing back at the president, calling Trump a “clown” and the “worst president America has ever had.”

Young voters also shared a feeling of letdown as neither candidate provided in-depth details of their policies or plans for the presidency. It seemed that there was a consensus among the students that neither candidate presented a forward-looking vision that was appealing.

“I expected the debate to be a chance for both candidates to get their true opinions and plans out as well as get a chance to address their opponents points,” CCSU sophomore Alina Peele said. “That expectation was not met, I’ve seen high school students debate better than them.”

Later on, Chris Wallace, debate moderator, prompted Trump on his willingness to condemn white supremacists and the “Proud Boys,” an all-male violent hate group. This particular moment during the debate conjured significant outrage, leaving some viewers less than satisfied.

“What do you want to call them? Give me a name,” Trump said. “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”

“President Trump telling the Proud Boys to stand by [is] antithetical to everything our nation should stand for,” Clark stated.

“Trump was asked to address white supremacy and he just kinda glided over it for me,” Peele said. “It showed me what he truly felt about the situation.”

While polling suggests that Biden won the debate by a comfortable margin, students were left unimpressed.

“It was just argumentative and chaotic,” Pascale Joachim, a sophomore at University of Connecticut, said. “I couldn’t help but laugh at some points because I couldn’t believe what I was watching.”

In terms of who she thought won the debate it was “Biden, by default I suppose.”

The remaining debates will remain as scheduled with more health and safety plans being implemented. This is in part due to Trump recently testing positive for coronavirus and approximately 11 positive cases by people involved in preparations.

The next Presidential debate is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 15th, following the first vice-presidential debate on Wednesday, Oct. 7.