Photo credit Janine Eduljee
Photo credit Janine Eduljee

As a political junkie and registered voter, I was pretty excited going into tonight’s debate to see just how Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would fare against each other, one-on-one for the first time. I was also eager to support my former colleague Lester Holt in his moderating position.

Northeastern University held a debate ‘watch party’ hosted by Northeastern Votes, and I took some moments in between listening to what the candidates had to say on a variety of issues to document some of the reactions I witnessed in Blackman Auditorium tonight.

The entire event was a pretty great concept for NU students, who were provided the opportunity to register to vote and a free water bottle on entry.

Paul, a chemical engineering major, was sitting directly behind us and I asked him what he hoped to glean from this debate:

A perfect example of a typical college student response. I was thoroughly shocked to see just how crowded the place got – at one point they asked everyone to move in towards the center of the aisles so that every available seat could be filled:

And with a quick intro from Lester Holt, we were off and away:

From the very start of the debate with opening statements, it was extremely obvious which candidate was more heavily favored among the students present in the audience:

Clinton quickly gained an upper hand in the debate by displaying poise and confidence amidst Trump’s often unfounded attacks. She rarely stopped smiling throughout the entire debate, hitting Trump hard with policy point after policy point (not to mention some incredible zingers) and the audience couldn’t get enough of it.

But Trump also got some claps and giggles along the way for some TV-worthy quips:

At times it seemed that the students were more interested in the entertainment value of the debate:

But the students were also quick to applaud when a candidate aced a policy stance or policy-based attack perfectly:

Or subsequently when a candidate botched an attempt at a salient debate point:

Perhaps the most notable point of the event was when Trump vehemently denied that he was in support of the war in Iraq, despite Holt’s attempts to interject that there was undeniable proof that he indeed did do just that:

It was pretty obvious from the audience reaction that they had seen the same interviews and articles from the early 2000s that Holt did when he pointed out the existence of such verifiable proof to Trump.

Perhaps there were a few claps along the way for Trump on some good jabs at Clinton re: email scandal and secrecy, but for the most part it was a pretty one-sided response in overwhelming favor of Clinton:

All in all, my takeaways from the event were that Clinton made some incredibly well sourced and well articulated positions on a variety of issues, while Trump tended to rely more on attacking Clinton’s character and judgment with hopes it would gain favor among undecided voters. And if there were any undecideds in the audience tonight, it would seem from the cheers and jeers that they were almost certainly pushed over to the Clinton camp by her performance.

One incredible night of political debate, and I cannot wait to see how this dispute continues to play out on October 9 for the second presidential debate.

On one final note, with the clear favorability towards Clinton as I felt and many people at the event tonight felt she won the debate, I feel in the interest of fairness that it is necessary to point out that Donald Trump’s poor performance tonight could be attributed to a possible sickness, some outlets are reporting. If he wants to win in November, I suggest he stocks up on Emergen-C immediately lest he fall victim to the same plight that cost Richard Nixon the election back in 1960.


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