The Collegian
Friday, August 07, 2020

Candidates play to strengths in first presidential debate

<p>Image courtesy of VectorOpenStock</p>

Image courtesy of VectorOpenStock

Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump both played to their strengths in the first presidential debate on Monday.

After introductions were made, Holt began the debate with questions on the economy. Clinton gave her plan to raise taxes, boost jobs and give more working rights such as equal pay for women and paid family leave. Trump gave a nearly opposite plan with cut taxes for companies, less outsourcing and renegotiating trade deals with foreign countries so that more jobs will become “American again.”

Other main topics were NAFTA, the fact that Trump won’t disclose his tax returns and Clinton won’t disclose her emails, race relations, gun control, foreign policy and nuclear weaponry. Both opponents attacked and interrupted each other when possible to get their point across, and Holt often had a difficult time keeping them on track.

Freshman Lindsey Paul felt that their inability to stay on track was disorienting. “They addressed a lot of issues that are important to me," Paul said. "However, I wish that they would have responded directly to all questions and attacks from opponents instead of skirting because it made it hard to compare them.”

Both student parties on campus were pretty positive about their respective candidate’s performance.

Andrew Brennan, chairman of the College Republicans, said, “The vibe I got from the people I watched the debate with is that while Trump missed some opportunities, he displayed a solid grasp of policy and was on the attack the whole night against Hillary’s bad record and demonstrated that he had the energy and skills to fight for the American people as the president.”

Jeremy Etelson, president of the College Democrats, said Hillary was factually strong and held Trump accountable. “Hillary did a great job of holding Trump’s feet to the fire on the facts,” Etelson said. “Especially on his business ethics and financial loyalty to foreign institutions.”

The debate was aired across campus at multiple viewing parties in Whitehurst, Tyler Haynes Commons and, most notably, the Westhampton living room. The Bonner Center for Civic Engagement hosted this watch party, which had approximately 130 students attending.

“This turnout was a little more than expected. We knew students were planning on watching but we didn’t know they would all gather together like this,” said Program Manager Adrienne Piazza. “I’m very happy with the turnout. It’s great to see students engaged and in dialogue about who they think will be the best candidate.”

Richmond NBC News 12 was also present at the Westhampton debate watch party, where they filmed participants and interviewed students.

Contact reporter Julia Raimondi at

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