By Adam Hornbuckle
The presidential candidates clashed in their first debate Monday night at Hofstra University in the most watched presidential debate in the history of televised debate. According to CNN, the debate was viewed on television by more than 80 million people and on the Internet by millions more.
Over 7,000 Hofstra students entered a lottery to win the 200 tickets available for the debate. One of the lucky Hofstra students who won a ticket was sophomore business major Emily Basile. “Being one of the students lucky enough to have won a ticket to the first presidential debate of 2016 is an indescribable feeling. Being inside of the debate was an eye opening experience because the media tends to sway in the direction of their own perception of each candidate, so watching it live was a different experience compared to television.”
Angela Curcio, a sophomore political science major at Hofstra, recounted her experience on campus before the debate. “Having my school host the first presidential debate was such an amazing experience. Throughout the day of the debate, students were allowed to walk around campus and take part in interviews as well as be live on the news sets of Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC. In my opinion, Hofstra did an amazing job making the students feel safe while also making the students want to be a part of this time in history.”
The debate moderator, NBC Nightly News’ Lester Holt, posed questions in three areas: “America’s Direction,” “Achieving Prosperity” and “Securing America.” Holt questioned the candidates about their economic plans, how they would heal racial divides, how they would combat cyber attacks and ISIS, and if the candidates would respect the outcome of the election. Along the way, the inevitable topics were addressed, such as Trump’s taxes and Clinton’s emails.
After the debate, Trump expressed his dissatisfaction with Holt’s choice of questions by tweeting “Nothing on emails. Nothing on the corrupt Clinton Foundation. And nothing on #Benghazi.” Clinton tweeted after the debate “43 days left. Let’s go win this thing #DebateNight.”
New York newspapers quickly commented on the debate, some coming as soon as a half hour after-the-fact. The New York Times editorial board wrote: “On balance, she (Clinton) pulled it off, swatting his attacks aside and confidently delivering her own criticisms from higher, firmer ground.” Newsday’s editorial board took a more centrist opinion, “On Monday night, neither candidate lost. But the nation won when both said they would support the outcome of the election.”
The first debate was not without controversy off stage as Green Party candidate Jill Stein was escorted off of the Hofstra campus for not having the appropriate credentials to be on the site, according to Newsday. Stein has a history of running into roadblocks at presidential debates as she was arrested in 2012 for protesting outside of the Hofstra campus during another presidential debate, according to FOX news.
The Green Party candidate, and the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, did not participate in Monday’s debate as neither candidate met the requirements set by the presidential commission on debates.
On the Post campus, dozens of students gathered in The End Zone to watch the debate at the campus life sponsored screening party and many more congregated in dorm room viewing parties. The Pioneer surveyed 40 students at the LIU Post screening party about who they thought won the debate; 74 percent of the surveyed students thought that Clinton won the debate and 21 percent thought that neither candidate was a clear winner. Seventy nine percent of the surveyed students thought that the questions presented by debate moderator, Lester Holt, were either reasonable or fair; and 22 percent thought that the questions were either too easy or too broad.
The first Vice-Presidential debate between Virginia Senator Tim Kaine and Indiana Governor Mike Pence will take place Tuesday, Oct. 4, and will be moderated by CBS News’ Elaine Quijano.
The second presidential debate is scheduled to take place Sunday, Oct. 9, at 9 p.m. The debate will be moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC’s Martha Raddatz.
The third debate will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at the University of Nevada, moderated by FOX News Sunday’s Chris Wallace.