Photo courtesy AlexLMX
Local residents shared their mixed opinions about the first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as the vice presidential debate.
By Chadwick Dolgos
Candidates President Donald Trump and former Vice President and Senator Joe Biden resorted to name-calling, while discussion on real policy changes was left up to the imagination of the viewers during the Sept. 29 presidential debate held in Cleveland.
Here’s what locals in our readership area had to say about the first debate and Trump’s almost immediate straying from the rules as he began heckling Democratic nominee Biden and speaking over moderator Fox News Sunday Anchor Chris Wallace.
Deanna Carter, resident of Neville Island, was not impressed by the President’s performance and found his constant interjections to be disrespectful. “He disrespected Chris Wallace by blatantly ignoring him and talking over him.”
Carter said she believes Trump’s constant interruptions also distracted audiences and limited Biden’s ability to respond. “It was unfair to Biden to have been interrupted continuously by Trump, which mainly distracted him from the topic at hand.”
Appealing to Trump during the debate, Wallace said, “I think the country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak without interruptions.”
The six topics chosen by Wallace prior to the debate included both candidates’ political records, the Supreme Court nomination, COVID-19, the economy, race and violence in cities, and election integrity. The two candidates were to debate each topic for 15 minutes for a total of 90 minutes. The debate was formatted to allot alternating two minute responses to each candidate when a question was asked.
Not everybody from the area agrees Trump was the source of the problem during the debate. Some believe that Wallace’s and Biden’s interruptions also added to the chaos of the night.
“Donald Trump debated both Wallace and Biden, which was entirely unprofessional and pretty much solidified everything we already knew, which is Trump versus the world,” said Sam Hunt, Neville Island resident and avid Trump supporter.
“The debate could have gone better,” said Tristan Yoder, McKees Rocks resident who is planning to run for PA-27 State Representative in 2022. “It didn’t help that Chris Wallace leaned more to Biden.”
While locals agree that the debate did not go as planned, they do not agree on who the winner of the debate was, or if there was even a winner at all.
“All in all, I feel that [Trump] won that debate, and if there was anything I would have liked to see him do differently, it would be to go for the throat in the next debate,” Hunt said.
Yoder also believes Trump was the winner of the debate, but was not as enthusiastic about the victory.
“Both candidates threw inaccurate things at each other,” he said.
Carter suggests the former vice president’s performance was overshadowed by the president’s bad behavior. “We did not get to fully hear and appreciate or not appreciate what Biden had to say.”
Royce Tipper, of Coraopolis, agrees with Carter. “The people lost a chance to truly hear each candidate.”
Tipper doesn’t believe there were any winners in the debate. “Each candidate had their positive moments,” he said. “The negatives and poor moderation overshadowed it all though.”
Due to the chaos that overtook the debate, local residents are hoping changes are made prior to the two candidates taking the stage together again.
“I would like to see someone that isn’t for Trump or Biden to moderate the debate,” said Yoder. He would also like to see the candidates stay on topic and, “convince people why they need to vote for one or the other.”
Tipper said he believes the American people would be better served if, “they could have an automatic timer on their mics to keep them in the timeframe of each question.”
Carter agrees that muting mics could contribute to a more civil discourse but is less optimistic about the upcoming debates.
“Hearing how Trump believes how well he did with the last debate, I can’t imagine it will go much better than this one.”
The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) issued a statement a day after the presidential rumble stating an intent to provide the tools necessary to properly moderate the two candidates.
“Last night’s debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues.”
The CPD indicated the new measures will be released shortly.
Trump is not open to new measures and changes to the debate format.
“Why would I allow the Debate Commission to change the rules for the second and third Debates when I easily won last time?,” he said in a tweet.
The next debate will be held on Oct. 15 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for Performing Arts in Miami, FL. The town-hall formatted debate will be hosted by C-SPAN political editor Steve Scully.
The CPD announced on Oct. 8 changes that would make the debate virtual, “in order to protect the health and safety of all involved with the second presidential debate,” after Trump tested positive for COVID-19.
“The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations,” the CPD said in their statement.
One week before the debate is scheduled to take place, Trump told Fox Business host Maria Bartiroma in an interview that he will not be participating in the second debate, which was to be held Thursday, Oct. 15. “I’m not going to waste my time at a virtual debate,” he said.
While the two presidential candidates decide whether or not they are going to debate next week, Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris joined together to debate the issues on Oct. 7.
The rules of the debate were similar to those of the first President debate. Each candidate would be asked a question and given two uninterrupted minutes to answer. The opposing candidate would then be allotted time to respond.
Jared Walters, Robinson resident studying engineering at CCAC, found the VP debate to be less chaotic than the first Presidential debate. “I thought it was better organized with respect to the rules.”
Resident of Coraopolis Alicia Marcucci agrees that the VP candidates were better at adhering to the rules, but would have liked to see more questions answered. “I thought the candidates at both debates focused too much on smearing the character of their opponents instead of answering the questions.”
Walters also agrees that too many questions went unanswered between the two debates. “Like both of the debates, candidates chose which questions to answer.
While the first VP debate was also the last for the election cycle, the future of the next presidential debate is still up in the air.