After two widely publicized Republican debates, people across the country got their first chance to see Democratic presidential candidates go head-to-head.
The NYU College Democrats and the NYU Politics Society co-hosted a viewing party of the first Democratic primary debate at the Leslie eLab on Tuesday night, with over one hundred NYU students attending the screening. Among the issues discussed in the debate were racial reform, climate change, gun control and college affordability.
This was the first time Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, faced off after months of competing for a Democratic majority. The less popular candidates, however, were still visible — a group consisting of former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
Prior to the debate, students had mixed views on what to expect. Most were excited to see how Clinton and Sanders would interact with one another. Chloe Chik, Gallatin senior and president of the NYU College Democrats, said she was anticipating all of the Democratic candidates would have a platform to speak for their policies on a national scale for the first time.
“It’s exciting to have our side show the world their ideas because hopefully one of them will be the next president of the United States,” Chik said.
CAS freshman Benjamin Totto is a Republican but said he was eager to watch the Sanders-Clinton battle.
“I am excited to see how Bernie Sanders does and how he measures up against Clinton and if she can keep her role as frontrunner,” Totto said.
Considering the hype surrounding the Sanders-Clinton dynamic before the debate, the two presented their positions on the issues in concise manners with no underhanded comments or passive aggressiveness toward each other. CAS freshman Brian Lau said he was hoping for some controversy to come out of the night.
“I just want to see how Clinton responds to her email scandal,” Lau said.
The scandal came up a few times, underhandedly and directly. The conversation eventually came to an end when Sanders said “The American people are sick of hearing about your damn emails.”
Prior to the debate, LS sophomore Aliesha Overton and Gallatin sophomore John Leake both expressed excitement for the candidates to address the BlackLivesMatter movement.
“I’m really interested in foreign policy especially for Bernie Sanders vs. Hillary Clinton — [Sanders] hasn’t really expounded on that yet,” Overton said. “I’m also really interested to see if the BlackLivesMatter issue will be discussed.”
Sanders cited that one of the crises the United States is facing today is the amount of incarcerated Hispanic and African American youths, and continually proposed education reform as a solution for the incarceration problem.
On the topic of immigration, both Sanders and O’Malley said they support providing in-state college tuition to undocumented immigrants, while Clinton declared her support for opening up opportunities for immigrants to be able to buy exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. Webb, however, closed his immigration statements with a strong stance: “No country is a country without defining its borders.”
At the conclusion of the debate, CAS freshman and deputy treasurer of NYU College Democrats Ryan Trumbauer explained that he had been swayed from being a strong Hillary Clinton supporter considering how comprehensive the other candidates’ policies are.
“There was actually good policy debated,” Trumbauer said. “I have questions on the breadth of policies being put forward by other candidates.”
The next Democratic debate will be held at Drake University on Saturday, Nov. 14 and will be televised on CBS.
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