Grace Reacts to the First Presidential Debate


On Tuesday, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden squared off in the first of three presidential debates, which was moderated by “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace. Several topics included The Supreme Court, healthcare, COVID-19, race relations, violence in American cities, climate change, and the integrity of the election. Right from the start, both candidates wasted no time when it came to throwing punches. Trump touted his record while criticizing Biden as a career politician, saying, “In 47 months, I’ve done more than you’ve done in 47 years.” Both candidates dodged questions asked by Wallace and tiptoed their way around pressing questions. Biden refused to answer whether he would support expanding the Supreme Court, while Trump avoided condemning white supremacy. The debate was even more chaotic than anticipated, as both Trump and Biden routinely spoke over each other and exchanged insults. 

President Donald J. Trump points towards his opponent during the debate
IMAGE: Doug Mills (The New York Times)

The Grace community joined the rest of the world by watching the debate. An anonymous student slammed the debate as “An embarrassment to the American people and this country.” The student followed up by saying, “Both men had zero ability to control themselves and accomplished absolutely nothing on stage. If we learned anything from this, it’s that this is going to be a long, painful process extending far beyond November 3rd in order to determine who will be the next president of the United States.” Mayra Tuncel ‘22 offered similar critiques of the debate saying, “Biden [could not] form a coherent sentence and Trump kept interrupting him.” 

Chris Wallace attempting to control the two candidates
IMAGE: Ruth Fremson (The New York Times)

Despite Wallace’s substantive questions, the debate lacked significant policy substance as many of the attacks became personal. Most notably, Trump went all-out, invoking Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden’s drug addiction. Henry Epstein ‘21 said it was “One of the more disgraceful things I’ve seen but that’s become the expectation of this president.”

Evan Sarno ‘21 thought  “the debate went terribly wrong, mostly due to Chris Wallace’s inadequate performance, Trump’s failure to follow protocol, and Biden’s lack of self-restraint when it came to firing back at his opponent. Overall, the debate was a disgrace.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden attempting to get his point across
Image Credit: Jim Watson (Getty Images)

In examining the performance of each candidate, GCS High School history teacher Mr. Klebnikov said, “I think that after everyone takes a few deep breaths, it will be seen that Biden won this debate.” Despite this, Klebnikov does not believe this debate will have any drastic effect on the trajectory of the election saying, “Only about 10% of American voters are still undecided which is historically a very low percentage. It is unlikely that the needle moved significantly for either candidate.” Klebnikov also believes Trump blew a chance to move the needle in the first debate, and that ultimately, he does not expect him to be re-elected, citing the “common sense of the American people.”

This debate kicked off in what is likely to be a vicious general election cycle between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. While the two won’t take the stage again until October 15th, next week, we will see the only vice-presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and California Senator Kamala Harris on October 7th. Despite different responses among students and faculty, the overall consensus from the Grace community was that the debate was chaotic and that the American people deserve better than what we saw.

Santiago Zubillaga ‘21 is the Politics Editor for the Grace Gazette.

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