University students and community students gathered in the Whig Senate Hall Sunday evening to watch the second of three debates of the 2016 presidential race.
Democratic nominee Secretary Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump debated issues such as maturity in personal behavior and judgment, the crisis in Syria, domestic taxes, and energy policy. The candidates debated in a Town Hall format, where the candidates debated issues and points of inquiry raised by members in the audience.
While the debate revolved around issues critical to the policies of the next President of the United States, both candidates focused on trading massive waves of insults, pokes, and jabs far different from the rather restrained atmosphere of the first debate.
Josh Freeman '18 said he was not surprised by the amount of harsh words thrown by both candidates. "The candidates were using the same rhetoric that they have been using for weeks going on months now.”
“I feel like I'm not really watching debates for their substance but I’m watching to see what Donald Trump says next,” Freeman added.
When an audience member brought up an inquiry regarding the maturity of both candidates with regards to the presidential office, Trump did not hesitate to jab at Clinton’s personal life, mentioning Bill Clinton and his relationships with women while defending his own comments about women.
“This is locker room talk, you know? No one has more respect for women than I do,” Trump said. "No one who was more abusive to women in politics than Bill Clinton.”
Trump went further to vow that he would hire a special prosecutor to try Clinton for her role in controversial email scandals in 2015, claiming that Clinton would not be able to speak against him because “she’ll be in jail.”
Clinton responded by observing “when they go low, you go high,” and proceeded to belittle Trump as “lost in his own reality.”
Both candidates continued to throw insults at each other as the topics of issues shifted. Trump claimed that Clinton was static and careless in her 30 years as a politician. Clinton observed that Trump was delusional and lacked any cohesive policy.
The debate moved on to the crises in the Middle East, where the candidates disagreed on the best strategies to take down the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The candidates also dabbled in their differing policies to immigration specifically to Muslim refugees fleeing from war-torn areas.
Trump took a firm stance, saying that Clinton and other politicians were afraid to identify the problem as it really was. “You’re going to, whether you like it or not, have to say the name: Radical Islamic Terror.”
Hillary responded by noting that the United States was fighting radical individuals, not with an ideology or belief. “We are not at war with Islam. I want to create a country where you and your family feel welcome,” Clinton said. Clinton also added that she, too, supported extreme vetting to prevent potentially dangerous individuals from entering the United States.
The debate moved on to center around both candidates’ differences in energy policy. Trump observed that foreign powers, especially China, flood American markets with cheap raw materials, taking away companies and jobs. I will bring our energy companies back. They will bring jobs back; they will pay off our debt. We have to guard our energy,” Trump said.
Trump went further to advocate a return to investment in coal energies, a resource that, as Trump noted, “made us rich and is plentiful under our feet.”
Clinton, after observing Trump’s lack of any energy plan, stated that she had a comprehensive energy policy citing the need to “reach out to new energies, renewable energies, become the clean energy superpower of the 21stcentury.”
The debate closed with both candidates mentioning one facet that they respected in the other. Clinton said she respected the way in which Trump’s children were raised and have grown. Trump noted that he admired Hillary’s fighting spirit and “her unwillingness to give up, even if I disagree with almost everything she believes in.”
University viewers expressed the sheer tenacity in which both candidates traded blows and insults during the debate. “I guess none of this is surprising but I think Secretary Clinton got bogged down and her behavior,” Shakthi Shrima ’19 said. “She seemed more frustrated, more willing to interrupt, and break rules in a way Trump was used to doing. They did not really answer the questions given to them and were more willing to hit each other.”
Bhadrajee Hewage ’20 swiftly agreed noting how desperate both candidates were getting in their arguments and veiled punches. “I think it was a more insightful debate than the last one. I think they both really went at it … they really showed that everything really was at stake.”
Saad Malik '20 interpreted the actions of both candidates in a different light, observing that the debate showed Trump and Clinton’s true colors, noting, “I found that [the debate] ended on a note that made both the candidates human.”
The debate viewing was sponsored by Whig-Clio. The third and final presidential debate is to be held in the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on Wednesday, Oct 19th.