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‘Chaotic’ first presidential debate frustrates Seton Hall students

The first presidential debate for the 2020 election between former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump on Sept. 29 drew mixed reactions from Seton Hall students, with some saying the debate was chaotic and difficult to understand.

The debate, which was moderated by Fox News Sunday anchor and veteran journalist, Chris Wallace, and hosted by Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, saw both candidates repeatedly talking over each other and exchanging barbs. 

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) later released a statement on Sept. 30 saying it will make changes to the format following the blowback from Tuesday night’s debate and after Wallace himself said he “never dreamt that it would go off the tracks the way it did.”

“Last night's debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues,” the CPD’s statement said. “The CPD will be carefully considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly.”

Shanice Bedford, a sophomore biomedical engineering major, said the lack of respect from the candidates during the debate got in the way of discussing important issues. 

“The level of unprofessionalism between the candidates hindered the opportunity to provide clear cut solutions to very important topics many Americans, including myself, had been anticipating,” Bedford said.  

Julie Lomonte, a sophomore creative writing major, said she was frustrated by the chaos during the debate and mentioned the number of times Trump interrupted Biden throughout the debate. 

“In general, I think that it says a lot that the debate was so messy and there was so much interruption while Biden was trying to speak,” Lomonte said. “Personally, it makes me upset when people talk over me, so I can’t imagine the frustration of being in front of so many people and having the president, who’s supposed to listen to all people, speaking over you when you're trying to get important points across.”

Katie Wanger, a senior political science major, also commented on the frequent interrupting during the debate and said she believes there should be some changes regarding how the debate is held. 

“I think it was a little hard to watch,” Wanger said. “I felt like you didn’t really hear a lot about their policies or their opinions on stuff, it was a lot more of bickering and talking over one another, especially President Trump interrupting a lot over candidate Joe Biden. I thought they definitely needed to make some changes to how debates are going, especially after that one in order to get people to tune into the next one.”

There are two more presidential debates scheduled before Election Day. The next debate will be held on Oct. 15 and moderated by Steve Scully, senior executive producer and political editor of C-SPAN. A Vice Presidential debate between Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence will be held on Oct. 7. 

Genevieve Krupcheck can be reached at

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