It is hard to find anyone who does not have an opinion on the presidential election. Until this year, the most-watched debate was between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter in 1980 which caught the attention of 81 million citizens. In 2016 roughly 84 million people watched the debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, topping the 1980 debate by three million.
Trump is currently one of the most controversial people in the U.S. with both devoted supporters and adamant haters. Many were undecided on who they would vote for, and the live debates were Trump’s chance to prove he was the better candidate. Whether he succeeded or not is up to the voters.
In the first debate, Trump began calm and collective. He answered the questions and listened to Clinton’s responses; he even shook hands with his rival. Trump seemed perfectly capable of holding his own. Towards the middle, though, many believed Trump began to break down.
The Republican candidate began talking over Clinton, interrupting her two minutes of free speaking and ignoring the moderator’s attempts to quiet him down. It was so noticeable that Saturday Night Live used it as a punchline in their skit mocking the debate. When asked if he wanted to respond to the comments made by Alec Baldwin’s Trump, Kate McKinnon’s Clinton leaned back and said, “That’s ok, he can have my time.”
At the second debate, Trump made headlines in a different way. The town hall setup allowed the candidates to move around and address the citizens who asked them questions. Many noticed Trump was constantly in Clinton’s camera shot, standing behind her and watching with an unreadable expression. Supporters of both candidates tried to come up with explanations for the strange behavior. Clinton advocates accused him of “stalking” her, hovering in a business-like attempt at intimidation. Trump supporters, however, claimed that Clinton strategically positioned herself so that Trump had nowhere else to go apart from directly behind her. Whatever the true reason for his behavior, it was consistent enough to be a memorable aspect of the debate.
In the third debate, the last chance to prove to a nation-wide audience that he was the right choice for president, Trump made several legitimate points and many infuriating comments. After indirectly claiming the borders must be closed because the people coming into the U.S. from Mexico are, “Druggists, murderers, and rapists,” Trump declared, “We have some bad hombres’ here, and we’re going to get them out.” Also, who could forget the moment he used the word “bigly” on public television. Repeatedly.
The debates are the time for presidential candidates to show their stripes. Now it is up to American voters to decide if what they saw is someone deserving to be the next President of the United States.