The Debates – a Retrospective

By Kirsty Morrison

Picture credit: Bill B

TAXES, immigration and foreign policy have been three of the major talking points in the current US presidential debates.

The first televised debate, held on September 26, saw Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump challenge each other in Hempstead, New York.

Key moments included Clinton criticising Trump for refusing to release his tax returns and Trump accusing Clinton of not having ‘the look’ or ‘the stamina’ to be President.

By the end of the first debate it became clear that Clinton won the argument as she appeared more prepared.

On October 9, Trump’s lewd comments about women in an Access Hollywood taping became a focal point of the second debate in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Republican candidate dismissed it as ‘locker room talk’ however Clinton said it ‘represents exactly who he is.’

Trump also took the opportunity to question Clinton sending official emails from a private server.

The winner of this debate was said to be Clinton again although less conclusively than the first debate.

The final Presidential debate took place on October 19 in Las Vegas, Nevada and saw issues including immigration, abortion and equal pay for women under the microscope.

On immigration, Trump has stood by his proposal to build a wall along the US-Mexico border while Clinton calls for immigration reform.

However pollsters and commentators were convinced Clinton had won the debate as she was more disciplined in her approach.

In 2008, the first presidential debate with Democratic nominee Barack Obama and Republican nominee John McCain focused on issues including the economy and foreign policy.

It was widely concluded that Obama won the first debate as he had more of a substantial lead.

The 2008 presidential debates were also influenced by technology as voters submitted questions to candidates via YouTube.

This social media influence is also apparent in 2016 as live streams of the debates were streamed on Facebook and Twitter.

Overall, it is clear that Clinton in in the lead, in terms of performance in the debates.

On Vox, a news website, editor-in-chief Ezra Klein summed up the debate performances: “Hillary Clinton crushed Donald Trump in the most effective series of debate performances in modern political history.”



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