‘Disheartening’ Final Presidential Debate Draws Laughter, Gasps

Debate at the Queen's Head
Freshmen watch the third and final presidential debate in the Cambridge Queen’s Head pub Wednesday night. The Undergraduate Council and Freshman Year Social Committee hosted the event, which was open to freshmen only.

With Election Day less than three weeks away, students both laughed and gasped while watching Democratic presidential nominee Hillary R. Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump go head to head in the final presidential debate Wednesday night.

Spectators at the Institute of Politics’ third debate watch party burst into laughter after Trump said “we have some bad hombres here,” referring to undocumented immigrants in the United States.The IOP, which held a lottery for tickets to the event, screened the debate in the John F. Kennedy Jr. forum to a large audience, although some seats remained empty.

The Harvard Republican Club, which has refused to endorse Trump, held its own viewing party in the nearby Kennedy School FDR room. Republican Club president Declan P. Garvey ’17 characterized the debate as “disheartening.”

“I mean, I’d like to see Trump pull off a mask and have Jeb Bush emerge and debate Hillary Clinton,” he said.

Devontae A. Freeland ’19, campus outreach director for the Harvard College Democrats, said he was pleased with Clinton’s performance. Freeland watched the debate with other club members in Winthrop's dining hall in the Inn at Harvard.

“I think Hillary Clinton won the debate,” he said. “I think Secretary Clinton managed to find the opportunities to show concrete ways, and allow undecided viewers at home to actually see ways in which Trump was presenting inconsistencies, for example in his narrative.”

At the Cambridge Queen’s Head Pub, the Freshman Class Committee and the First Year Social Committee joined to organize a watch party for freshmen, replete with french fries and chicken wings.

A packed crowd reacted strongly to Clinton and Trump’s answers to questions on topics ranging from the nomination of a new Supreme Court justice to their fitness to be president. In response to Trump interrupting Clinton with the word “wrong” as she discussed recent allegations of his sexual harassment, a spectator at Queen’s Head shouted “do you not remember?” in disbelief.

The liveliest reactions at Queen’s Head arose after Trump called Clinton a “nasty woman” near the end of the debate. Spectators shook their heads and shouted, “That’s not okay” and “Is this for real?”

Attendee Brianni Lee ’20 said she hoped to see more content-based discussion from the candidates, as opposed to the previous two debates, which largely consisted of personal attacks from both candidates.

“They’re basically proving themselves as the best candidates for the presidency and not really talking about the future of the country,” she said.

With the final debate over, Freeland said the focus should now turn to election day.

“The most important thing ahead of Nov. 8 is actually going to be voter turnout,” he said. “We need to make sure that as many folks as possible actually get out to the polls.”

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