Students gather for first Presidential debate watch party

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Presidential Debate

In an effort to get students involved, Reinhardt Student Activities set up the Bannister Glasshouse for a presidential political debate viewing party.

The first debate of the 2016 Presidential race took place Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. According to CNN, 70 million to 100 million viewers were expected to tune in to the debate, making it a huge opportunity for the candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, to get their positions in front of potential voters.

Students began gathering in the Glasshouse well before the debate was slated to begin at 9 p.m., filling up all seating available. Dr. SimonPeter Gomez, assistant professor of political science, was in attendance to facilitate discussion among the students.

Issues mentioned during the debate, moderated by NBC journalist Lester Holt, were broken into three segments: achieving prosperity, America’s direction and achieving America.

The first segment ended up going over schedule with each candidate’s insistent rebuttals, consuming a lot of the allotted time. It included issues covering individual income, securing American jobs, trade relations with other countries, as well as tax cuts (and who should get them). Trump was questioned about the non-release of his tax returns and he said he would do so when Clinton releases her 33,000 deleted emails.

The second segment began as a discussion on race relations and crime rate, but also covered the birther movement perpetuated by Mr. Trump. The third and final segment addressed cyber warfare and how ISIS has used the internet as a tool in war. Each candidate also addressed nuclear threats.

This segment, and the debate, closed with an argument of which candidate essentially has what it takes to be President — a question that arose from Trump having previously said, “I just don’t think she has a Presidential look…” regarding Clinton.

Gomez shared his thoughts on how each candidate performed during the first head-to-head presidential debate of the campaign season.

For Trump, it was an opportunity to demonstrate composure, Gomez said.

“He had to come across as rational, as someone who wasn’t a hothead, and that he actually had at least had some control of the facts,” Gomez said.

During the discussion following the debate, several students mentioned that they were surprised at how reserved Trump seemed, relative to his norm.

“Honestly, I was impressed that Trump wasn’t as radical as he was during the primaries,” student Ian Schumacher said.

Clinton’s problem was nearly the opposite. Gomez agreed that she should use this debate as an opportunity to demonstrate her ability to relate to the country’s general populace.

“I don’t know if she necessarily accomplished what others said should be her goal, which is to show her personal side,” Gomez said.

Schumacher said he felt Clinton answered with some good comebacks for Trump.

“I think Hillary came back with some good shots,” Schumacher said. “She would come back with something smarter. … It was something I was looking for.”

Following the debate, Gomez led a discussion regarding the students’ thoughts on the debate, such as things that they wished had come up and who they felt performed better. Several students stated that immigration and educational funding were two issues of which they would have liked to see more.

Students all seemed to enjoy the opportunity to view the event with their fellow college students.

“Yeah, it was fun,” Schumacher said, adding that he would come to the future debate watch parties as long as his schedule allowed it.

There are watch parties planned for the remaining two debates, one on Oct. 9 and the last one on Oct. 19. Gomez said that he would love it if the entire campus was in attendance.


Written By: Thomas May. Photo By: Aaron Simmons.

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