Two debates down, one to go

Grant Campbell

Adam Poyner, Contributor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

America has plodded through the second of three presidential debates, and we are on our way to wrapping up an unnecessarily long and draining election season in just under three weeks. People have been hearing about scandals, sickness, and every form of mudslinging for months on end, and all of the negativity came to a significant milestone last month at the first presidential debate on Sept. 26 in Hempstead, New York.

Upwards of 84 million Americans tuned in. For reference, the Super Bowl usually garners about 100 million viewers, and the last time a presidential debate broke the record for viewers was in 1980, 10 elections ago, with just over 80 million viewers.

I spoke with several people who tuned in, and most of them handed the victory for the first debate to Hillary Clinton. Her composure was as polished as people have come to expect. She was comfortable and calm, yet prepared and energized on stage, as we would hope any presidential candidate would be.

By contrast, Mr. Trump seemed to lose focus throughout the debate, interrupting the moderator Lester Holt and Mrs. Clinton several times, hurling his traditional accusations at Mrs. Clinton and offering little-to-no details, whatsoever, about his policy plans.

This was, however, a whole lifetime ago, before a new round of scandals surrounding these candidates exploded onto the national news scene. A video from 2005 of Mr. Trump bragging about sexually harassing women put the Republican party in a very difficult position, their national and state legislators facing reelection choosing between supporting Mr. Trump and winning their own races. It is becoming increasingly clear that Mr. Trump does not have what it takes to unite the Republican party.

This was the tense situation heading into the second debate. Mr. Trump fell apart even more quickly this time around. He excused the video from 2005 as “locker room talk,” and he immediately launched into an attack against Mrs. Clinton for enabling her husband’s less-than-desireable treatment of women before declaring he would defeat ISIS.

For Democrats in the crowd, the night had a feeling akin to the first debate. Mrs. Clinton decisively won. Once again, she laid out her policy plans as neatly as ever, especially with regards to issues such as health care, the environment and energy economies, and Islamophobia in America and abroad.

However, when faced with tough questions about her Wall Street speeches and a new round of emails that have been released, Clinton responded in the wooden and practiced manner that is all too disconcerting for many voters who favored Bernie Sanders, and she was visibly eager to move off those subjects.

It’s clear that her ties to the wealthiest Americans exist and will obviously continue to exist if she is elected president. By this point, no one needs to be reminded of Mrs. Clinton’s glaring flaws as a politician; however, her positives, especially her experience and policy ideas, can more than outweigh them.

The task at hand remains to emphasize these positives and lay out the policies before the voters because many still care more about the issues, but don’t know where anyone actually stands on them, considering the only things being talked about are scandals and accusations.

This feeling was obvious at the end of the night when an audience member asked the candidates to name one thing they respected about the other, even though the past year has been so fraught with contentiousness between everyone involved in this race. In regards to this strategy, Mrs. Clinton did an excellent job of setting the stage for a final debate in which she can devote more time to her policy stances, and hopefully spend a little less time responding to accusations from Mr. Trump.

What remains to be seen is how the rest of the Republican party will react to Mr. Trump’s second less-than-ideal performance. Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, and many other Republicans have expressed their distaste for what Mr. Trump has said over the course of his campaign, though often without completely disavowing him, for fear of losing their own races.

It’s a near-impossible line to walk, and if Mr. Trump continues on the track that he’s been running, the Republicans may be facing large losses in congressional, state, and local elections. While it is unlikely that Mr. Trump will go down quietly, it does seem possible that the leaders of the Republican establishment may choose to try to save their down-ticket candidates rather than their presidential candidate who is anything but presidential. They certainly need to decide soon.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
The student news site of the University of New Orleans
Two debates down, one to go