By Shania Kuo
As the election draws closer, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump battled it out in the debates for America’s vote on November 8th. Many viewers across the United States were disappointed by the first round in the presidential debate, held on September 26th. With the recent debates held on October 9th and October 19th, viewers across the United States could not help but feel even more discontent about the nation's future.
On September 26th, the debate heated up swiftly with Clinton on the attack, leaving Trump baffled as he tried to defend himself. Many of the debate topics were not covered; instead, both candidates continuously interrupted each other while retorting to comments made by one another. This lasted for a majority of the debate, and questions that were asked were met with candidates steering away from the questions and instead returning to personal topics.
Throughout the debate, Clinton was the aggressor with her attacks on Trump’s “trumped-up-trickle-down” policy, which she argued would cut taxes in order to benefit the wealthy. Clinton also attacked based on his alleged refusal to pay his federal taxes, as well as for his praise of Vladimir Putin and Russia. As the debate became more and more heated, Clinton accused Trump of being both a sexist and racist man, referring to the names he has called Rosie O’Donnell in the past as well as his lies about President Obama’s birth certificate. Clinton voiced her disapproval for his support in the housing crisis, to which Trump remarked, “That’s called business by the way.”
After Trump mentioned Clinton’s support of the invasion of Iraq, she recalled his own support for the invasion, which he quickly denied. In retaliation to Clinton’s claims, Trump criticized the trade deals, such as NAFTA, made by her husband and stated, "NAFTA is the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere, but certainly ever signed in this country.” Later he criticized her lack of action as Secretary of State alongside the statement, “Politicians are all talk, no action.” After Clinton’s attack on his tax returns, Trump brought up Clinton’s emails and heavily criticized her decision. Near the end of the debate, he labeled Clinton as having low stamina and being unfit to become President.
The second debate, on October 9th, was no better in terms of behavior from the two candidates. This time, the debate was heavily centered on the controversies surrounding both Trump and Clinton following the release of a video of Trump making suggestive comments and leaked transcripts of speeches made by Clinton, which she refused to release beforehand.
The debate was off to a stable start until the tides quickly turned after moderator Anderson Cooper questioned Trump’s behavior on a tape released by Access Hollywood before the debate. In said tape, Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women on a bus. However, Trump dismissed the tape as “locker room talk” after a brief apology, and he attempted to dodge the topic by bringing up ISIS. Following this response, Clinton immediately fired the first shots by using the question as a springboard to display Trump’s inadequacy, to which Trump replied, “It’s just words.”
After Hilary’s offense, Trump tried to turn the tides in his favor by stating that what Bill Clinton had done in the past was far worse than what he said. In response, Hilary Clinton made a brief comment and quoted First Lady Michelle Obama when she said, “When they go low, we go high.”
On the topic of Clinton’s emails, Trump stated, “If I win, I’m going to instruct my Attorney General to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, because there’s never been so many lies, so much deception.” After Clinton’s reply in relation to his temperament, Trump commented, “Because you’d be in jail.” At the conclusion, both candidates ended with compliments for each other and the customary shaking of hands, but Americans were left infuriated with what had been addressed as well as with what hadn’t been addressed.
During the third debate, some sources claim around 71.6 million people tuned in to watch before the final decision on November 8th. Before the debate started, many people made comments about how this debate would most likely end up being, “the ugliest debate out of all three.” However, the contrary was true as both candidates maintained their tempers throughout most of the debate.
As with the last two debates, the third ran smoothly until a one particular topic emerged: abortion. This triggered the first break in each candidate’s composure. Trump first replied with his standpoint as an advocate for pro-life and his decision to appoint pro-life justices. He also stated that a woman’s right to abortion would go back to the states if he is elected president. Clinton, however, supported Roe v. Wade, stating that it “guarantees a constitutional right to a woman to make the most intimate, most difficult in many cases, decisions about her health care that one can imagine.” She also made jabs at Trump’s declaration that he will defund Planned Parenthood.
After her statement, Trump responded to Clinton’s stance by stating, “Because based on what she's saying and based on where she's going and where she's been, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb on the ninth month on the final day. And that's not acceptable.” In response, Clinton reprimanded Trump for his use of fear in trying to swing people in his favor and claimed his statement to be false.
After the topic of abortion, another topic that heavily separated the two candidates emerged: immigration. Trump was adamant about the wall being built, but he also insisted that, “We have some bad hombres here and we’re going to get them out.” In context, Trump was referring to the “drug lords” and other dangerous undocumented immigrants by using the Spanish term for “men.”
On the other hand, Clinton disapproved of Trump’s deportation policy, as she believes it will tear the country apart. She also brought up the story of a girl she met in Las Vegas who stated that she feared her parents would be deported. Clinton said she proposes comprehensive immigration reform and regulations, but does not support deportation.
The debate quickly spiraled out of control as the topic shifted to Vladimir Putin. Clinton replied to Trump’s claim that Putin had had no respect for Clinton or President Obama with, “That’s because he’d rather have a puppet as President of the United States.”
In response, Trump told her, “No puppet — you’re the puppet.” Soon after, despite having praised Putin in the past, Trump stated, “Now we can talk about Putin. I don’t know Putin. He said nice things about me. If we got along well, that would be good."
Clinton was quick to reply, “He’d rather believe Vladimir Putin than the military and civilian intelligence professionals who are sworn to protect us."
Trump was just as quick to retort by stating, “She doesn’t like Putin because Putin has outsmarted her at every step of the way.”
Later in the debate, Trump’s allegations that the election was rigged emerged, and moderator Chris Wallace asked if Trump would be willing to accept the results whether Trump were to win or not. Instead of giving a direct response, or the response many Americans were expecting to hear, Trump replied with, “I will tell you at the time, but I will keep you in suspense.”
Near the end of the debate, on the topic of the Social Security Trust Fund, Clinton was making a claim about Trump’s policy when Trump quickly interrupted her by stating, “Such a nasty woman.” This statement led to a series of angry outbursts on social media, and toward Trump himself, following the end of the debate.
All three debates left viewers unimpressed with the candidates this year. More importantly, many of these viewers include students who are not interested in hearing about the controversies of both candidates. What student viewers want to know is what each candidate is going to do for our generation. For example, which candidate is going to lower the cost of college and decrease the amount of student loans for our generation? The latter of the two has been a chronic problem for many Americans, and many individuals deal with this debt throughout adulthood. The topics students are the most interested in hearing about had not been properly addressed in the first and second debates, and they were omitted completely in the third debate. Education is a stepping stone in solving the problems going on in the world; if children cannot get the education they need, the problems of the present will remain in the future. As November 8th looms closer, the decision is now up to the American people to decide who our next president will be.