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Student experiences presidential debate in-person

By Mark Dovi, Point Park News Service:

I had the great honor to receive a media credential from Washington University and the United States Secret Service to attend the second Presidential Debate on Sunday, October 9 at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

Photo credit: Mark Dovi, Point Park News Service.
Photo credit: Mark Dovi, Point Park News Service.

Passing through multiple security checkpoints upon entering the actual campus, I could sense there was something big going down on the Danforth campus because everywhere I looked I saw Presidential Debate signage, road blocks and heavy law enforcement presence.

Only credentialed members of the media and Washington University students with their ID card were allowed on the campus grounds. Invited guests and the United States Secret Service pre-approved credentialed members were the only ones allowed past the 10-foot-high black fences the military set up around the debate hall.

As major television networks started live broadcasts early Sunday morning, Washington University students decided that they were going to celebrate the nation being brought to their campus with a party. They held block party-styled festivities throughout the campus featuring Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Rock’em Sock’em robots, giveaways and even campaign t-shirt decorating.

As the debate time drew closer, the candidates arrived with their families, snipers took their places on rooftops and the networks finalized preparations to broadcast round two of the debates.

I entered the debate hall to a room of about 300 people. The audience was so quiet that you could hear the clicks of the cameras. This debate format was different then the first one because it was held in a town-hall format. A group of anxious American citizens sat on the stage waiting for the candidates to take the stage to answer some of their questions.

Photo credit: Mark Dovi, Point Park News Service.
Photo credit: Mark Dovi, Point Park News Service.

Once the debate began, it was nothing short of expectation. Americans watched the fiery exchanges between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump unravel.

The live audience was able to see how much Trump dodged the hard-hitting questions as he made continuous attacks towards Clinton about issues that were being presented. The constant interruption and snide comments Trump made, not only made it hard for the audience to pay attention, but also for the moderators to keep control of the debate.

The nation was able to see how their preferred candidate interacted with citizens, and their ability to answer right to their face. These debates are time for voters to see how the nominee is able to handle themselves under pressure, but also to make sure that they want that person representing their country.

Relieved that the 90-minute feud was over, the candidates met back up with their families on the debate floor and continued to their waiting security entourage to take them back to the airport.

While the debate was going on just a few feet away, students held a massive watch party on the lawn outside the hall. Analysis and critiquing of the debate was broadcast live from the campus into the early hours of the morning.

Following the debate, crews worked tirelessly to restore the campus back to its normal look for students to return to their classes on Monday morning.

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