The race is narrowing for democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Over the past four months the two candidates for commander in chief have been simultaneously pushing their platforms and attacking each other during rallies and over social media. Monday evening the two will face off for the very first time in person, and the stakes are high.
Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY will be the venue for the first of three 90-minute debates. In order for Clinton to succeed, political strategists would like to see her adapt her strategy to include specifics about how she would run the country during unsteady times. To compete with the more outspoken Trump, Clinton must maintain her confident demeanor and further prove herself to be the more level-headed, experienced alternative. If Trump wishes to see poll numbers similar to those post-GOP convention, he must maintain his composure to prove that he has the temperament to be commander in chief.
The debate will air over most major news networks at 9 p.m. ET and will comprise of six segments of 15 minutes each, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). The debate will also be made available on all Virtual Reality headsets. Lester Holt of NBC will moderate and open each segment with a question that each candidate will have two minutes to respond to. The major discussion points for the first debate will include “America’s direction,” “securing America” and “achieving prosperity–” all of which are expected to lead into larger discussions on immigration reform and economic development.
One of the most prominent issues on which the candidates will be grilled is immigration. Trump’s stance is more muddled than it has ever been before. Despite claiming that the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America should be deported, he recently said there should also be a “softening,” though he has failed to elaborate on what exactly that means. Trump has also voiced past support for amending the constitution to get rid of birthright citizenship, and expressed interest in banning Muslims from entering the U.S.
Hillary Clinton has aligned with the Democratic status quo, not deporting undocumented children, deporting undocumented criminals and calling for amnesty for all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Clinton has denounced Trump’s positions on immigration, and said that they will only further divide communities.
With fewer than 50 days until the election, both Clinton and Trump have been increasing their outreach toward black voters. In light of the recent protests in Charlotte, NC over the shooting of yet another unarmed black man, Clinton said, “too many black people are dead who shouldn’t be.” Clinton has embraced the Black Lives Matter movement from the start and has drafted policies which focus on police reform, gun violence prevention and changes to the criminal justice system. Exit polling from the 2008 and 2012 elections shows that Obama won more than 90 percent of black voters and more than half of women voters, and according to a recent poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, Clinton has secured 91 percent of black voters and 50 percent of women voters, while Trump has secured one percent of black voters and 33 percent of women voters.
On the Black Lives Matter movement, Trump has criticized its supporters for questioning police tactics while pushing his stance to return power “back to the police.” However, after the Sept. 20 shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, Trump changed his tone toward the issue. Although he still stands by the saying, “all lives matter,” Trump finally acknowledged wrongdoing on the part of police officials regarding the recent fatal shootings of men in Charlotte and Tulsa.
The issue of gun control has also surfaced from time to time in the campaign, and the candidates have voiced their opinions strongly on it. Trump has accused Clinton of wanting to destroy the second amendment and the National Rifle Association (NRA) has run many ads in his favor over the past few months.
Clinton has staked out a position favoring banning people on the no fly list from purchasing firearms. However, the issue of gun control has heavily polarized the American people, and no real headway has been made in regulation or deregulation in recent years.
Despite being expected by some pundits as a vital issue, the candidates’ policies on marijuana closely resemble each other. While Trump wants medical marijuana to be legalized, he feels as though recreational use should be left up to the states. In the past Trump has favored legalizing all types of drugs. Clinton also supports legalizing medical marijuana, but has made comments in favor of also legalizing recreational use for adults, although she has never explicitly stated so. However, it is unlikely that this issue will be a major point of contention in the debates.
Debate track record
In the primary debates, Trump had a knack for knee-capping his opponents in a boisterous manner. He has given epitaphs to his rivals such as “Low Energy Jeb,” “Lyin’ Ted,” “Little Marco,” and “Crooked Hillary.” During the republican debates he came out as a street brawler ready to dish out attacks and became popular with supporters for his “tell it like it is” attitude.
In the upcoming debates Trump will be a wild card. It will be next to impossible to say what he might do exactly. His flamboyant statements may be bait for Clinton and the moderators, or simply just knee-jerk responses. Trump will likely be asked about his stance on immigration to see if his self-proclaimed “softening” has occurred.
Clinton has had much less exciting debate performances. Her debates with Bernie Sanders were not especially remarkable on either side, and she now has to deal with the more outspoken Trump, who does not have many clear patterns to observe. Regardless, she has spent much of the past week preparing for the debate with her team. Trump should not expect any great theatrics from her, but we do not know all that well how she will debate a person like him. Clinton will likely be grilled on her “deplorable” remark, and email use controversy.
How will it affect us?
The topics that will be discussed in the upcoming debates may seem alien to most students. As students, issues relating to police brutality, polluted water and gun control may seem out of reach for us. Besides, the only students eligible to vote are seniors who are scrambling to submit college applications. So why should we care about the upcoming presidential debate? The explanation is simple. How our next president responds to these issues can and will affect us, even if only in a small way.
The American Heritage student body is made up of many ethnicities. Upper School students represent more than 60 countries, and one in three of them are foreign born. Heritage’s international student body will certainly be impacted by a potential Clinton or Trump administration. After all, Trump has called for a temporary ban of all Muslims and intense vetting of all other immigrants to the U.S. Trump would also move to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants, which could affect the economy of South Florida. Meanwhile, Clinton has been in favor of granting amnesty to undocumented immigrants, which has the potential to affect our economy on a large scale.
Hofstra University, the venue for the first debate, also hosted the 2008 debate between current U.S. President Barack Obama and senator John McCain, and the 2012 debate between Obama and Mitt Romney. After Monday, Hofstra will be the first university to host three consecutive presidential debates. Tickets were allocated on behalf of the Commission for Presidential Debates (CPD) by lottery to a certain number of Hofstra students and are not available through any other means at this time.
HOW STUDENTS FEEL
A lunch survey was conducted near the 9000 building and the Quad to see who American Heritage students feel is most fit to be the next U.S. President. One hundred fourteen students responded. Votes for “Other” frequently yielded answers such as “Harambe,” the deceased gorilla, and “Bill Nye the science guy.”