Students and faculty weigh in on the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden

With both glowing and scathing remarks for the two candidates, students and faculty share their thoughts on the first of three debates



Joe Biden and Donald Trump participated in the presidential debate on Sept. 29.

Tuesday, Sept. 29 saw the first of three presidential debates between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. The debate had some of the lowest ratings in presidential debate history, though it provoked responses from those who decided to watch. 

Both chairwomen of the College Democrats and College Republicans were unavailable to comment.

Marcos Quinn, a fourth-year political science student, explained that while there were things he liked about Trump’s performance, he had some issues with it as well. 

“I like that Trump was confident and didn’t hold back, however I was disappointed that he was talking over both Biden and Wallace the majority of the time,” Quinn said. “As a Trump supporter, I appreciated and agreed with a lot [of what] Trump was saying but when he got in arguments with them both, it diminished his light and drifted away from the facts.”

Damir Kovačević, an assistant professor of political science at UW-Eau Claire, said the debate was unusual, unhelpful and lacking in decorum. 

“Vice President Biden was strongest when speaking directly to the camera. I think this helped him with undecided voters and democrats who are still uncertain of what a Biden presidency would entail,” Kovačević said. “His performance was not stellar, but it was a refreshing contrast to President Trump’s unhinged and disrespectful performance.”

Kovačević said this year’s debates may not be helpful to voters — if the next two debates between the candidate’s parties reflect the same behavior as the first.

“If the basic rules, which are agreed upon by both sides beforehand, cannot be followed, then we cannot expect an honest debate on the issues most important to American voters,” Kovačević said. “Debates are supposed to be helpful, especially with undecided voters, but a repeat of Tuesday night would be embarrassing [again] and a waste of our time.” 

Timothy Krueger, a fourth-year finance student and former chairman of the College Republicans, agreed with Quinn saying Trump could have done better, and arguing that Biden won the optics battle.

“I think Trump did okay but could’ve done better,” Krueger said. “He interrupted too much and I didn’t like that. Not necessarily because it looked bad but because he should’ve let Biden talk.”

Biden was helped in this debate by moderator Chris Wallace from Fox News, Krueger said. 

“Biden couldn’t answer a single tough question over the course of the entire debate, and every time it was apparent he was struggling, Chris Wallace stepped in and saved him,” Krueger said. “It was very pathetic and made it even harder to gauge if Biden is fit to serve.”

Conversely, Hallie Amble, a third-year elementary education student, said she thought Trump had been rude and childish.

“There’s no reason to constantly interrupt Biden as he spoke, when he was granted two minutes, and also fight with the moderator,” Amble said.

Keely Berg, a third-year communications and history student, also said she thought Trump had not acted professionally.  

“Trump also should’ve never brought up Biden’s dead son. That is beyond disrespectful and he should’ve never even mentioned Biden’s family,” Berg said. 

As the vice presidential debate takes place tonight at 8 p.m. in Salt Lake City, Americans will see how Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris take to the stage to debate similar issues. Trump and Biden are still scheduled to debate on Oct. 15 and 22.

Kristof can be reached at [email protected]