Students struggle to pinpoint victor in latest presidential debate
The fifth Democratic presidential primary debate, which aired on Nov. 20, came on the heels of multiple days of impeachment hearings.
With the testimonies against the president fresh in the minds of the American people, the candidates focused on electability, each seeking to demonstrate why they were the person who could win the general election.
University students who viewed the debate struggled to come to a consensus of which candidate came out on top.
“Kamala Harris did a good job, considering she was under a lot of fire tonight,” Meghan Mullennix, a senior political science and history major, said.
Mullennix was referring to the heated exchange between Harris and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii.)
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) also worked to establish herself as an electable candidate during the debate, recalling her record of winning in traditionally Republican districts in the Midwest.
Alexa Adams, a junior political science and public policy major, was pleasantly surprised by Klobuchar’s performance.
“Senator Klobuchar really stood out to me in the beginning,” Adams said. “She seemed to dominate parts of the discussion, whether I agreed with her or not. I definitely heard more from her tonight than in previous debates.”
Harris, Klobuchar and Gabbard all took aim at South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg who recently made a drastic climb in Iowa polls. Klobuchar questioned his experience, while Gabbard criticized his military judgement and Harris remarked on his struggles to appeal to black voters.
“This is exactly what makes Mayor Pete stand out in the debates,” Ryan Palmer said, a graduate student studying chemical engineering. “All the other candidates try to say things to make them look good and their opponents look bad, but Pete always brings it back to the issue.”
Mullennix felt similarly about Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts.)
“I feel that Warren has routinely performed the best in all of these debates,” Mullennix said. “Even if it felt like she was less vocal this round, she still made her points clear and didn’t take any shots at candidates while doing so.”
Not only did the debate lack a clear winner according to university students, but it also lacked discussion on certain topics that many university students would have liked to hear more about.
“They didn’t really talk about climate change at all,” Palmer noted. “I wish they had talked about it more, because I feel like we haven’t heard enough from each of the candidates on that issue.”
The topic of health care was also avoided throughout the latest debate, despite being a major campaign issue for many of the candidates. These nominees gave brief statements on the issue at varying points throughout the night, but no conflicts emerged as a result.