By Akosua Albritton
If you read the book “Game Change”, you are aware that candidates prepare for debates by participating in mock debates several times a week throughout the course of the primaries and up to the last debate between the Republican nominee and Democratic nominee. It is apparent between Hillary Rodham-Clinton and Donald J. Trump who is educable and who is not. Donald Trump’s performance answered “No” to Chris Wallace’s pre-debate banter, “Will Donald Trump be disciplined about staying on topic?”
CNN broadcasted the third 2016 Presidential Campaign Debate in Las Vegas, October 19, 2016. This reporter sidled up to a bar stool at The Westbury Inn in Flatbush to be with neighbors to observe their reactions to the candidates’ responses to Wallace’s questions.
The topics included filling the vacancy in the US Supreme Court, protection of the US Constitution’s Second Amendment, Abortion, Immigration & Border Security, Russian-American Relations and competency to hold the US President’s seat. Topics not tackled included renewable energy, environmental restoration and protection, climate change, public education and a plan to get US citizens back to work earning livable wages.
One superficial observation is the appearance of the candidates. The Trump camp should have taken the business card of Mrs. Clinton’s makeup artist. Hillary was quite stunning. Her skin from face to neck was that of a woman in her early 40s. Her eyes were bright and she maintained that pleasant smile. She was the epitome of “grace under fire”.
After hearing Trump’s response to filling the US Supreme Court vacancy with people who are pro-life and pro-gun, an unnamed blonde lady who lived across the street from the bar remarked, “There is a need for us to come together to set things straight…This is a theater of the candidates”.
Both Trump and Clinton agreed on maintaining the Second Amendment to the US Constitution and in favor of defending the Planned Parenthood organization. It was Trump’s depiction of abortion as “Ripping the baby out of the womb in the ninth month” that brought out loud moans in the lounge. Clinton considered what he said to be inflammatory language. She received claps for her stance on abortion as “a right of the mother to decide”.
Turning to immigration, Trump interchanged “border security” with “immigration”. He opined “a massive law enforcement force” is required to stem illegal immigration. Mrs. Clinton reminded Mr. Trump that he “used undocumented workers to build Trump Tower”.
Regarding Russian-US relations, the two bantered about the relationship Trump was developing with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Clapping and whooping erupted from Clinton’s quip about “Russia would rather have a puppet with whom to negotiate”.
Trump contended that comparing the past 30 years of his and Clinton’s accomplishments would bear out that he is the more fit in terms of character. Trump’s remark, “Nobody has more respect for women than I do”, produced many guffaws in The Westbury Inn. Trump accurately opined that the Clinton Foundation required an unbiased review of finances and program activity.
Various media outlets have used the term “meltdown” in characterizing Trump’s speech and behavior during the last leg of campaigning. This third debate included many episodes. Though Trump enjoyed several years starring on the reality TV shows “The Apprentice” and “The Celebrity Apprentice”, he defamed this one source of his bread and butter as “corrupt media”. He claimed US politics was rife with “rigged elections”. Chris Wallace asked Mr. Trump (two times) whether he would say this election is rigged if he doesn’t win? Mr. Trump’s response: “I’ll tell you at that time.”
After the debate, this reporter hurriedly went from table to stool to get the public’s reaction. Diana Baide, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens resident said: “I think this is such an unprecedented dynamic to occur in a [US] presidential election. Such a stark difference between candidates is polarizing our country. Voting for Hillary has always been obvious to me; just as it is obvious to Trump supporters who will vote for him. The recurring question I ask myself is, “How did we get here?”
Tamahl Rahaman, Flatbush resident said: “This is the only debate that I watched all the way through. It’s shocking to me how Donald Trump has gotten so far.
I think a president should be able to take criticism from his opponent and the world. I think Trump failed at being able to apologize. I think he should say I apologize for having you be a part of all accusations laid against [me] to his wife. Hillary Clinton’s closing statement was good: ‘Making America an even better nation.’ I’d like to see an adult in office, not a child.”
Michael Mansfield, Crown Heights resident said: “It is unlike any other debate ever…A lot of questions answered; a lot of questions dodged. This will be my first time [being able] to vote.”
Jodi Johnson, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens resident said: “In regards to Donald, he was being ‘The Donald’. He was ever-swerving from answering questions in order to say his talking point. Hillary was being Hillary, the consummate politician. Whenever it was time to answer a question, the smile would come on. She was trying to be calm, but she should, like, take her earrings off and ‘be real’ and cuss him out. Trump could never be president. The fact that he couldn’t use the last moment to explain what kind of president he’d be is telling.”