Vice presidential debate leaves some students unimpressed

About 50 students watched the vice presidential debate in the Student Union on Tuesday. Photo by Bonnie Cash

About 50 students watched the vice presidential debate in the Student Union on Tuesday. Photo by Bonnie Cash

More than 50 students gathered in the Student Union Oct. 4 to watch the vice presidential candidates debate, which left some students uninspired by the candidates.

Live polling at the event found that 66.7 percent of respondents, which was a total of eight students, did not like either vice presidential candidate.

“Neither of the candidates seemed too appealing,” said Kathryn Jenner, a senior public relations and advertising major. “This has been a really interesting political year – the debate has been a direct representation. I hope the election remains civil, and I can’t wait for it to be over.”

The two candidates, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Gov. Mike Pence, R-Ind., sparred on the issues of immigration, abortion and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s tax return controversy.

“All I heard was emails, taxes, emails, taxes,” said Drew Nelson, a junior public relations and advertising major who plans on voting for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. “The value of the (vice presidential) debates in an election like this one is marginal, but it gives a clear idea of the type of policies a Trump administration would pass, as Pence is the only one on the ticket with any government experience.” 

Three days before the vice presidential debate, The New York Times revealed records that showed Trump claiming a $916 million loss in 1995, which could have allowed him to legally avoid paying federal taxes for 18 years. The taxes were largely debated on Tuesday night.

Those tax returns that were — that came out publicly this week show that he faced some pretty tough times 20 years ago,” Pence said during the debate. “His tax returns showed he went through a very difficult time, but he used the tax code just the way it’s supposed to be used. And he did it brilliantly.”

Senior Kyvan Elep, the lead assistant in the Civic Engagement Initiatives department, believes that hosting debates in the Student Union is beneficial because it creates an environment for students to discuss current issues and think critically.

For the first presidential debate we had over 150 students with the union packed with students,” Elep said. “We are expecting a lot of people to come out for the final debate on the Oct. 19.”

Live polling asked a variety of questions during the event, such as “Are the running mates mirrors of their candidates?” and “Does this debate change your opinion on either campaign?”

One person responded yes that the candidates were mirror images of their candidates, with seven others believing that the candidates had some differences. Nobody polled changed their minds on the campaign after watching the debate, as seven people answered that their opinions remained the same.

Nelson was upset that moderator Elaine Quijano did not question Pence about his policies that have been said to target certain groups of people.

“I am disappointed that Mike Pence, a man known for his discriminatory policies toward women and LGBTQIA+ individuals, was not forced to address his claim to fame: his bigotry toward women and LBGTQIA+ individuals,” Nelson said.

The event, hosted in Farmville, Virginia, is the only scheduled vice presidential debate for this election.

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