About 29 million people tuned into the first of this year’s three presidential debates Tuesday night at 9 p.m. at Case Western University and the Cleveland Clinic. Though the numbers were down nearly 40% from 2016 according to Nielsen ratings, nearly every TV on campus was tuned in to the debate
During the debate, sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump held the attention of students all night — and provided political talking points for the rest of the week.
Though some policies were mentioned during the two-hour event, most of Tuesday night was filled with what some called “chaos.” In the words of Biden — and senior Matt Fisher — it was “a national embarrassment.”
A common critique from Hillsdale students was how frequently the candidates interrupted each other.
“I thought it was difficult to understand any content in the beginning, especially because of the continued interruption of each other,” said sophomore Meghan Schultz.
For others, the debate left them feeling nervous and uncertain about the direction of the country.
“Every time this happens, I’m always hoping it’ll turn out better than it has before, and I’m always underwhelmed,” said sophomore Hannah Cote.
The candidates addressed six national hot topics ranging from the Supreme Court to the coronavirus and the riots following the death of George Floyd.
Biden claimed that the president was in the wrong for appointing a new Supreme Court Justice after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 18, and should have waited until after the election.
“The people already had their say,” Trump responded. “I’m not elected for three years, I’m elected for four years.”
Biden slammed Trump for his response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“He knew it was a deadly disease. What did he do? He didn’t tell people or give us a warning because he didn’t want to panic the American people,” Biden said. “You don’t panic. He panicked. He still doesn’t have a plan.”
Trump refuted the claim, and when asked about wearing a mask, pulled one out of his coat pocket, to show he is prepared to wear one when necessary.
Perhaps the most memorable part of the debate was the constant bickering between the two.
There was a “just shut up man” from Biden, and from Trump, a “let me shut you down for a second Joe.” It was constant and seemed to be the main takeaway for many.
“My overall opinion of the debate is one: American politics is dead. Biden looked like a moderate even though very little of what he said was actually moderated,” said sophomore John Paul Schlueter. “I think Trump missed the opportunity to rile up his base and influence some moderates to support him. At the end of the day, I don’t think there’s a single person whose mind was changed.”
The next presidential debate will be Thursday, Oct. 15, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami.