Trump and Clinton took off the gloves in Monday night’s debate

Eric Johnsen, Staff Writer

The first debate of the 2016 presidential election, held on Monday the 26th, was accompanied by much hype – and it did not disappoint. The candidates set their tone early on. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate, tried to dispel concerns about her authenticity and relatableness. In her first answer of the debate she mentioned that it was her granddaughter’s 2nd birthday. Donald Trump, the republican candidate, continued to paint America as a failing status quo in need of a change agent. He started the debate by talking about how “jobs are fleeing” and foreign countries are “taking our jobs.”

In what is perhaps the most polarizing election in recent history, people have more opinions about politics and the debates than ever.

Freshman Noah Jager, a Republican who supports Trump, thought his candidate was “great for the first 20 minutes, but after that started to lose focus on the main points of the debate.” This is not a new criticism for Trump, who Jager said “might alienate voters by attacking Clinton too much instead of making good points.”

Senior Hank Ruff, a Democrat but not a Clinton supporter, thought that “Trump lost the debate for himself by coming out as a jerk with his statement about the housing collapse and his constant interrupting of Clinton.” The statement about the housing collapse Ruff referred to was Trump response of “that’s called business” to Clinton’s claims that he was rooting for the collapse of the housing market.

Ruff said that Clinton did a good job, and “while she came off as a little bit scripted, she handled her email scandal well and sounded like a president who really wants to help the middle class.” Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State has been covered in the news nonstop this election cycle. On Monday night, Clinton made it clear that she “made a mistake” and kept her answer short and to the point.

Jager agrees that “Clinton did well,” but goes on to add “but Trump did better.” He went on to say that “neither of them looked presidential.” While Ruff believed Clinton had a good answer on emails, Jager thought she got lucky, saying he wished “Trump had pressed her more on the emails.”

On the economy, Clinton humanized her middle class focused policies by telling the story of her father’s small drapery business. She contrasted this with Trump, who was given millions of dollars by his business tycoon father. The Republican candidate called for a return to the ‘trickle-down’ economic policy and promised he would “make the biggest tax cuts since Reagan.” According to Clinton, however, trickle-down economics under Bush is what led to the 2008 recession.

The second topic of the evening was ‘Race Relations,’ an even more sensitive topic than usual in light of the recent events in Charlotte, North Carolina (the most recent in a long list). Also, as NBC’s Lester Holt, the moderator of the debate, alluded to, Trump is in fourth place with African-American voters, behind not only Clinton but also Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. While Clinton stuck to mainstream views of the Democratic Party such as the need to address the gun epidemic, Trump focused many of his responses on the highly controversial “stop-and-frisk” policy that was in place for a few years in New York City. Notably, stop-and-frisk was both ruled unconstitutional and shown to be racist in practice.

Both Jager and Ruff are looking forward to watching the second debate, which will take place at Washington University, St. Louis on Sunday, October 9th and start at 9 p.m.