Stockton students react to Harris-Pence debate and cancellation of Oct. 22 presidential debate

Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee, Senator Kamala Harris sat twelve feet apart during the first and only vice-presidential debate last Wednesday night in Salt Lake City—between them, plexiglass barriers, which have been deemed useless by virus experts.

Viewers widely observed the vice-presidential debate as civil and traditional, yet less memorable than the first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. 

Moderator, Susan Page, Washington bureau chief of USA Today, guided the 90-minute face-off. Page poised questions concerning the Coronavirus, foreign policy, energy policy, health care, and the supreme court. With time running out, the vice-presidential debate may have created a clear conscience for many Americans to commit to their vote. For others, the decision will not be so easy. 

“During the debate, I felt like it was much more mature and policy-based than the previous presidential debate. Both candidates talked about their viewpoints and opinions on popular current events,” said Stockton student, Frankie Martinelli-Noble. 

Another student, Brianna Chelednik, agreed both candidates seemed well-rounded. “Both candidates did a great job representing their views on the several topics that included coronavirus, the economy, foreign policy, race, and policy reform,” Chelednik said. 

While the vice-presidential debate may not have been as polarizing as Trump and Biden’s, the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis has become one of the election’s most significant elements. Early Sunday morning, President Donald Trump updated Americans about his condition on Twitter. Twitter flagged the tweet as false information. 

President Trump will return to the campaign trail starting Monday, October 12. There will be a rally at 7 p.m. in Sanford, Florida.

“I think Donald Trump and his administration could be more transparent regarding his health and his COVID-19 diagnosis. The people of the United States deserve to know more about his condition and when he tests positive or negative,” Martinelli-Noble said.

Despite Trump’s claim of immunity from the virus, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) canceled the second, initially set for October 15. This decision came after the CPD announced the debate would be virtual when Trump and several White House figures contracted the virus. Trump declined and refused to participate in a virtual event while Biden advocated for safety reasons.

“Overall, I am rather ambivalent about the debate. Trump has COVID -19, and over Zoom, it [the debate] would be a messy situation. The moderation from the last presidential debate could have been better. But, they should not have canceled it,” said Stockton student, Maya Alecia.

“I think it is idiotic they canceled the debate in Miami because Trump was cleared to go out by all his doctors on Saturday,” Stockton student, Jason Kessler, said. “It’s ridiculous that Joe Biden was not willing to sit in a room with him, even though Trump will start campaigning again. However, the virtual format would not have been legitimate.”

With only 23 days until the election, the presidential nominees have one chance to convince undecided voters. The final presidential debate will be on October 22 at Belmont University in Nashville. Students can register to vote by October 13, either online or in person.

“Due to the polarization of both Biden and Trump. I still have more to decide over my vote. I want the best for my country, and so far, I’m still undecided,” said Alecia.