President Donald Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden had their second presidential debate on Oct. 22. It was held in Nashville, Tennessee. (Courtesy of Creative Commons)

Lehigh reacts to the last presidential debate of 2020

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The 2020 presidential election is inching closer after the conclusion of the presidential debates. 

The second debate was held in Nashville, Tennessee, on Oct. 22 between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. The debate was in person with a limited, socially-distanced crowd, and was moderated by Kristen Welker, NBC News White House Correspondent. 

The second and final debate came after Trump would not agree to a virtual debate after he tested positive and was later hospitalized for COVID-19 earlier in the month. That forced the Commission on Presidential Debates to cancel the originally scheduled second debate, making the Oct. 22 debate — with Trump fully recovered from the virus — the second and final debate.

Nandini Deo, associate professor of political science, said “the debate seemed to be much more about policy differences and party platforms than personalities.”

Anna Nicosia, ‘21, treasurer of the Lehigh University College Democrats, said this debate was much more tame than the first debate. There were fewer interruptions and the debate was more focused on policy, she said. 

“Biden was stable and he had time to think and speak without getting interrupted,” Nicosia said. 

Ethan Moscot, ‘22, president of the Lehigh University College Republicans, said Trump was more restrained and the debate was more productive than the first debate. 

After the first debate was roundly criticized for having too many interruptions, specifically on the part of Trump, the rules were changed in the second debate to mute the candidate’s microphones for their respective opening statements in each category. 

“Just knowing what the rules are can have a good effect on behaviors,” Deo said. “This was a much more disciplined performance from President Trump.” 

Moscot said Trump’s demeanor was different and the new rule allowed Trump to step back and let Biden speak. 

Nicosia said both candidates “sounded more coherent than they typically do.” She said  the threat of muting the microphones allowed Trump and Biden to collect their thoughts and focus on their messages. 

Moscot and Nicosia said both candidates seemed to have practiced and were much better speakers in this debate. 

Deo said Welker did a good job asking tough follow-up questions and pushing for more details from each candidate. 

Moscot added that Welker was fair to each candidate and that she did a better job than previous debate moderators. 

Deo, though, doesn’t believe the debate will change any voter’s mind and said those who are truly undecided most likely did not watch the debate. 

Nicosia said it was peculiar that Trump attacked Biden for being an established politician. She said that while the strategy was effective in 2016, Trump is no longer considered a political outsider. 

Nicosia believes that Biden was the winner between the two. 

“He was really the only person on stage that detailed any sort of coherent policy regarding key issues facing the U.S., including COVID-19 response and our health care crisis,” Nicosia said. 

Moscot explained that the debate was an opportunity for each candidate to sell themselves more effectively on issues like the economy, immigration and the environment. 

“We are so polarized,” Moscot said. “I think if anything, it validated already decided voters.”

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2 Comments

  1. Do you dislike that he directed the brokering of the first meaningful Mideast peace deal in decades?

    Do you dislike that he made cruelty to animals a felony? Or don’t you care?

    Do you dislike that he earmarked billions to stop the opioid crisis?

    He destroyed ISIS, killed countless terrorists without going to war (even though everyone said we’d be in World War III by now) and kept the peace. Do you dislike that?

    Does it bother you that we’re now energy independent and the largest producer of energy in the world?

    Do you dislike him because he started to build a wall to keep criminals and drugs from coming into our country and because he respects, honors and defends our country’s borders?

    Do you dislike him because he just slashed the price for prescription drugs (In some cases by 50%) which is driving Big Pharma nuts?

    Do you dislike that he met with the leader of North Korea, averted war with that country and brought a halt to their aggressive missile testing? Was that wrong?

    Do you dislike that he signed a law ending the gag-order on pharmacists that prevented them from sharing money-saving options on prescriptions?

    Do you dislike that he signed the Save Our Seas Act which funds millions per year to clean tons of plastic and garbage from the ocean? Does that bother you?

    Do you dislike that he signed a bill for airports to provide breast-feeding stations for nursing moms?

    Do you dislike that he signed the biggest wilderness protection and conservation bill in a decade designating 375,000 acres as protected land, making him the most significant conservation president since Teddy Roosevelt?

    Does it irk you that he loves America, and puts Americans first? Is that the problem?

    Do you dislike that he made a gay man the ambassador to Germany and then asked him to clean up national security, declassifying as much of it as possible for transparency?

    Do you dislike that he works for free, donating his salary to a different charity each quarter?

    Do you dislike that his economic policies have produced the lowest Black unemployment rate ever?

    Do you dislike that he listened to Senator Tim Scott and created opportunity zones to help minorities?

    Do you dislike that he passed prison reform, which gives people a second chance and has made quite a huge difference for minorities in particular?

    Do you dislike that he produced the lowest Hispanic unemployment rate ever?

    Do you dislike that he passed VA reforms to benefit the very people who served our country and defended our freedom?

    Do you dislike that he got rid of the job-killing NAFTA trade deal, got tough on trade with China and negotiated new trade deals with Mexico, Canada and other countries that benefit American workers?

    Do you dislike that he loves our flag and embraces a policy of unabashed, non-apologetic patriotism? Do you have a problem with that?

    Do you dislike that he calls out the media and attempts to correct them when they are wrong?

    Do you dislike that he’s bringing troops home and ending America’s longest war? Do you want the war to continue?

    Do you dislike that he has made a commitment to end child-trafficking and crimes against humanity and his policies have brought about thousands of arrests already?

    Do you dislike that he extended the offshore drilling ban along both Florida coasts as well as the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina? Are you bothered by that?

    Do you dislike he’s brought home over 40 Americans held captive, the last one from Iran?

    Or do you dislike that he’s making the world pay their fair share to the United Nations?

    Do you dislike that he respects cops, veterans, ICE and all first responders?

    Do you dislike that he does not sell out America to other countries, like the leaders prior to him have done?

    Do you dislike that he’s forced our NATO allies and others to finally pay their fair share to support important multi-national alliances?

    Do you dislike that he moved our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem which is the rightful capital of the Jewish state?

    Do you dislike that he signed the Right To Try law allowing terminally ill patients access to experimental drugs?

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