College students react to the first presidential debate

Caleb Wilson

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden squared off last Tuesday in the first presidential debate of the 2020 election.

Chris Wallace, the Fox News anchor who served as the debate’s moderator, announced the rules of the debate that both campaigns had agreed to, prior to the start of the event. The candidates’ adherence to the rules, particularly the president’s, later became the subject of much criticism across the country.

Wallace asked the candidates about the recent nomination of federal judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Trump justified his nomination with the argument that he had won the election, the Republican Party controls both the presidency and the Senate, and that he has a constitutional obligation and duty to appoint a nominee.

Biden retorted that American citizens had the right to voice their opinion on the nominee, and could do so by voting this November for their senators and president.

Trump cut in at the end of Biden’s time without the moderator’s approval, foreshadowing the chaos soon to ensue.

Both candidates threw personal attacks rampantly throughout the debate, with Trump attacking Biden’s intelligence and the integrity of his son, Hunter Biden. Biden labeled Trump as a racist and the worst president in the history of the United States.

The most controversial moment of the debate came when Wallace asked Trump to condemn white supremacy. Trump skirted around the condemnation, instead telling the Proud Boys, a far-right group with white supremacist ties, to “stand back and stand by.”

The fiery debate drew heavy criticism from commentators and individuals across the country and the globe for being uniquely chaotic.

The Guardian called the debate a “national humiliation,” and UMKC students agreed.

“It was a dumpster fire of a debate and was embarrassing for every single American,” freshman Violet Dyer said, “It was more of a comedic special than a presidential debate and would’ve worked better as a skit.”

UMKC junior and College Democrats of Missouri Political Director Mason McGregor agreed with Dyer.

“It was an unmitigated disaster that proved exactly why we should completely change how the media covers important political races,” he said.

Results from a College Pulse survey indicate that the vast majority of university students across America did not change their opinion on who they supported in the aftermath of the debate. Only a total of 2% of students surveyed switched the candidate they plan to vote for, while 79% of student’s support remained unchanged.

A total of 62% of the 937 students surveyed supported Biden both before and after the debate, compared to the 17% of respondents who continued to support Trump. Sixteen percent of students were undecided.

According to the most recent national poll by The Wall Street Journal, Biden now leads Trump by double digits after the debate. Biden holds a 14-point lead over Trump, the largest gap between the candidates since July.

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