CC students watch first 2016 Presidential debate

Jerrica Thomas, Staff Writer

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — Around 70 students and faculty gathered in BLC 103 Sept. 26 at 9 p.m. to watch the first Presidential debate. The debate watch was sponsored by CC’s Young Democrats, College Republicans and students in POSC 290.

This was the first Presidential debate between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump.  The debate was moderated by Lester Holt, NBC Nightly News anchor. It was live-streamed on CNN’s YouTube.

The debate lasted 90 minutes and was formatted into five segments split into three different categories: “Achieving Prosperity,” “America’s Direction” and “Securing America.”

“Achieving Prosperity” the first segment of the debate, focused on how the candidates would create jobs and addressed concerns with tax cuts or tax increases. Clinton plans to create jobs through producing clean energy, supporting small businesses and raising the minimum wage. Trump plans to create jobs by bringing big companies back to the states and lowering the tax rate to 15 percent.

“America’s Direction” focused on racial relations in the United States. Clinton plans to address racism by restoring the community’s trust in the police force, re-training police officers and reforming criminal justice. Trump stated that “law and order” needs to be reasserted and firearms removed from gangs.  

The “Securing America” segment addressed cybersecurity and the candidates’ stances on nuclear weapon policies. The topic of cybersecurity shifted the discussion towards Clinton’s plan on defeating ISIS. The plan is to collaborate with tech companies in developing software that prevents ISIS from radicalizing the United States and Europe.

Trump  stated that participation in military alliance NATO was a bad decision, in reference to nuclear weapon policies. Clinton argued otherwise, stating that NATO invoked article five, which reads, “An attack on one is an attack on all,” after 9/11. Because of article five, Iran was able to be sanctioned from using nuclear materials, according to Aaron Blake and Team Fix of The Washington Post.

Christina Dunn, political science major, emphasized the importance of college-aged students being involved in the 2016 election. She said that it is particularly important for students to have a place to watch the debates together.

Regardless of political stance, students should vote, Dunn said. Student activities handed out registration forms to students who attended the debate. Students are able to register online, in person or by mail. The last day to register to vote in the November election is Oct. 8. Voters in South Carolina must be at least 18 years old by election day.

According to Edward Sharkey, Ph.D., associate professor of political science, debate watches have been an informal community activity formed by students, student organizations and faculty. Something as simple as sitting in a room of peers to watch a debate fosters the next steps for students to become politically involved in the election, Sharkey said.

The PostScript staff members live-tweeted and snapped the presidential debate @C2ThePostScript and @thepostscript during the debate watch in BLC. The debate conversation was under #PostScriptElection2016 on Twitter.

Watching the debate will “encourage students to take on internships and learn more about issues that matter,” Mary-Stuart Tinkler, senior political science major, said.

The vice presidential debate is scheduled for Oct. 4 at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. The second presidential debate will be Oct. 9 at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. The third presidential debate is scheduled for Oct. 19 at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, according to

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