HYVC Takes on the Final Presidential Debate


Harriton Banner Staff

On October 22, 2020, the final presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was held in Nashville, TN. The debate—a much more conducive and respectful event compared to its predecessor—allowed some on-the-fence voters to get some final insight into the beliefs of each candidate. Here is what the Harriton Youth Voter Committee has to say on this final meeting. 

The Harriton Banner: Describe the debate in 1-2 words

Thomas Batteur: Worrisome

Lana Burke: Civil, more effective

Neha Dhanwada: Subdued

Evie Greenberg: Unsurprising, typical

Kaelyn Klatte: Moderated and interesting

Gabriel Klaumenzer: Calm, equal

Ben Kozloff: More civil

Erika Kurre: An improvement.

Ben Samahon: Based

Jordan Teicher: Calmer, informative

THB: What did you find surprising and/or disappointing about this debate?

TB: I found it pretty disappointing how Biden was scattered on many different topics when he had the opportunity to attack and remove Trump’s credibility on many of his weakest points, especially climate change and foreign policy. However, it appeared that Trump was able to deflect many of his points. For example, Biden attempted to tackle Trump on his lack of subsidies given to solar and wind energy. However, Trump has noted that this was untrue (in fact, 158 billion in subsidies have been granted).

LB: I was surprised that it was as civil as it was. It felt much more productive than the first debate because each candidate was able to speak without being totally cut off. There were a lot less personal attacks from Biden and Trump and more effective language solely about the topics at hand. I thought that it was childish, though, when they were each accusing each other of taking money from other countries.

KK: One of the most shocking events in the debate was Joe Biden’s rebuttal to Trump’s statement, “We’re learning to live with [COVID-19].” Biden said, “He says we’re not learning to live with it… People are learning to die with it.” These rock-solid, pathos-laden statements persisted throughout the rest of the debate, although I found this quote most impactful. It underlies how dangerous COVID-19 is, and how dire our situation is.

EK: I was surprised how different Trump acted, from the first debate. I believe this was partially because his advisors told him his behavior in the last debate was impacting him negatively and the new commission rules about muting microphones required greater discipline. I was disappointed by both candidates’ answers on the topic of race. I felt as though they were evading some of the questions and were getting distracted. For example, when Trump went on to say he was the least racist person in the room, which is untrue. I was, again, disappointed by Trump’s responses to COVID-19, as most of his answers were unrealistic or false. Whereas, I appreciated how realistic Biden was about dealing with coronavirus in the coming months and specific examples of what he would change. 

JT: I found the number of times that the commentator interrupted the President’s responses to be most surprising.  It was counted by a Fox News analyzer that the commentator interrupted the President 20+ times and only twice did she interrupt Biden.

THB: How did you think this debate compared to the first presidential debate?

TB: I believe that this second debate was certainly more tame than the first. Both Trump and Biden respected each others’ time accordingly, but still quarreled over each other’s international affairs and dealings with countries such as Ukraine and Russia. It seemed as if the majority of the debate consisted of moral attacks on each other’s character in relation to their personal entanglements. I certainly wanted to see more talk of policy from both candidates rather than personal jabs at each other.

ND: I personally felt that this debate was much more comprehensive compared to the first presidential debate. Both Trump and Biden seemed to have amended some of the bipartisan criticism the first debate garnered, though Trump remained characteristically brash and, well, trumped-up. Biden focused on policy but didn’t say anything the voters didn’t already know.

EG: This debate was certainly less entertaining than the last debate, to the relief of most Americans. Both President Trump and former Vice President Biden were able to maintain more composure and we saw a return to the normal political debate format—courteous enough and full of lies. This debate was nothing special and neither candidate was particularly impressive, however the bar was on the ground considering the catastrophe that was the previous presidential debate.

BK: President Trump had a clear and consistent message throughout the debate, instead of the nonsense of the first debate. He attacked Joe Biden many times on him being a corrupt politician who has not accomplished anything. He painted himself as a political outsider (the same tactic that helped him win in 2016) with the ability to get things done. Joe Biden’s “Come on, man!” became old quickly, and it seemed like he didn’t have a solid response to Trump. 

BS: It was definitely an improvement over the previous. Both candidates were more articulate and did a better job not blatantly insulting each other every sentence. That being said, if I was still undecided by this point, after watching the debate I would be even further undecided and opt instead to move to Canada. I am told that you get used to all the snow.

THB: Do you think there was a clear winner? 

ND: Personally—although I thought his points were unfounded—I believe Trump won the debate. The underlying agenda for the debates is to sway undecided voters to one party, and based on Trump’s conduct, regardless of the many outrageous and incredulous things he said, seemed to have done that better than Biden. Many voters remained unswayed by the first debate, as it was more inflammatory than anything, but Trump seemed to have taken some guidance regarding his attitude and remained the most memorable thing of the debate.

EG: I believe that Biden was the clear winner of this debate. Although Biden did nothing to particularly advance his campaign, President Trump was unable to sway the current trajectory which is favored in Biden’s direction. Although Trump’s abrasive behavior was toned down from the previous debate, he still did himself no favors with his aggressive mannerisms and infantile remarks. This is very important as Trump’s personal behavior has turned away many potential voters, especially suburban women—who he has quite literally begged to like him.

GK: I think Biden won with one quote that I took to heart. “(Donald Trump) said we’re learning to live with (COVID-19). We’re not learning to live with it, we’re living to die with it.” The main concern of the people right now is coronavirus, and Biden is not only countering his opponent but also subtly telling how he would devote a large amount of his time to battle the virus. I think Biden improved his debating abilities as well.

BK: It is very difficult to declare a clear winner. Essentially, if you support Trump, you are likely to believe he won, and vice versa. Both candidates had a much better opportunity to discuss their ideas in the debate, which is a win for undecided voters. 

BS: The clear winner is China or Russia. If there ever was a time to attack America, this would be it. Our democracy is at its weakest point in modern history, a statement epitomized in the two candidates the world had the displeasure of viewing live on television last week.