Interruptions, false claims, emotionally charged jabs at the other candidate — these are all typical of a presidential debate. However, the debate on Sep. 29 seemed to exacerbate these conditions. As much as moderator Chris Wallace tried, he could not reign in the conversation between former vice president Joe Biden and president Donald Trump. Whether it was Biden asking the president to “shut up, man,” or Trump’s lack of condemnation for white supremacists, the debate was an earful.
Of the six topics on the docket, COVID-19 took center stage. The two men bickered over state shut-downs and how the pandemic should be handled, however, neither of them claimed to have a sound plan on what to do.
The Black Lives Matter movement was also a large part of the debate. When asked if he was willing to condemn white supremacists, Trump replied with “sure”. However, he went on to tell the ‘Proud Boys’, an all-male far-right group, to “stand back and stand by.” In response, the former vice president told white supremacist groups to “cease and desist” after the debate in Alliance, Ohio.
Senior Max Fonda, a Trump supporter, felt that the debate was a disaster. “Trump had a lot of opportunities to capitalize on Biden purely on content, but he didn’t take advantage,” Fonda said. “Both candidates… got stuck on menial bickering; neither gave a tremendous performance.”
Biden supporter, senior Elaine Trieu felt that the debate should’ve been more respectful. “The attack on Biden’s son, [Beau Biden], was a low blow from Trump… he could’ve had more respect since his son did serve,” Trieu said. Viewing the debate as a whole, however, she and Fonda had similar ideas. “Overall, I feel like the debate could’ve gone a lot better,” she said. “In my opinion, it has got to be one of the worst debates ever.”