Students gathered in the Hanawalt House to watch the last presidential debate between Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
The debate addressed questions regarding the candidates’ views on Supreme Court nominations, the Second Amendment, abortion, immigration and foreign policy.
Students had mixed feelings about the productivity of the debate.
“It was very generic whatever-their-party-says kind of answers,” said Sean O’Cain, junior anthropology major. “If one was making productive talk, the other was trying to shut it down.”
“Both of them would get asked questions and they wouldn’t answer them,” said Jordan Harwell, vice president of the College Democrats. “They would go out in the left field about something else.”
When moderator Chris Wallace asked the candidates what direction the Supreme Court would take under their presidency, Clinton said she wanted a court that would protect marriage equality and uphold Roe v. Wade.
Trump said he wanted a court that upheld the second amendment. Clinton said she wanted to implement comprehensive background checks and close loopholes in gun purchasing laws.
Christian Barba, junior political science major, finds both candidates’ views on gun control insufficient.
“They both think people on the terrorist watch list should be banned from purchasing weapons,” Barba said. “The watch list does not provide due process. When felons are prevented from purchasing weapons, they are given a trial, and that’s not afforded to those on the watch list.”
Trump and Clinton argued about immigration. Clinton said her plan involves border control and a path to citizenship. She said that undocumented workers are exploited by businesses like Trump’s.
Trump talked about children being killed by illegal immigrants, receiving endorsement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and drugs being smuggled and sold in the United States.
“We have to have strong borders,” Trump said. “We have to stop the drugs from coming in.”
“The notion of the deportation squad, Trump wanting to kick out 16 million people and build a wall, that is a very un-American thing to do,” Harwell said. “I’m from San Diego. We built a wall. It doesn’t work.”
Trump and Clinton argued whether or not the United States should put troops to fill the power vacuum if the United States were successful in pushing ISIS out of Mosul, and then out of Iraq.
Clinton said she does not support putting American troops in Iraq.
“I don’t think we should have been there in the first place,” Harwell said. “Trump doesn’t have an exit plan. I don’t think we should send in American troops as an occupying force. Training the Iraqi army, that’s our best bet.”
As discussion of foreign policy shifted to relations with Russia and the Syrian civil war, Trump said that the United States is being outplayed by Putin, Assad and Iran due to the incompetence of American leadership.
“When Trump said we’re being outsmarted, he has a point,” O’Cain said. “If we don’t play their game, we’re going to lose the upper hand. If we’re trying to stay the world hegemony, we’re going to have to increase spending.”
Aryn Plax can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.