Stonehill Delegation Attends First Presidential Debate

September 23, 2016

Voters across the nation will be watching Monday as presidential nominees Donald Trump and Secretary Hilary Clinton square off in the first of three televised debates. The event, which will be held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, will see both candidates make the case that they are best suited to lead our country for the next four years.

Stonehill College will have its own delegation to the exclusive event: Professor Peter Ubertaccio, Director of the Martin Institute for Law & Society; and Ben Rajadurai '17, Chairman of the Massachusetts College Republicans. 

On a related note, former Stonehill Trustee and honorary degree recipient, Senator Paul G. Kirk, Jr. is the Chairman Emeritus of the Commission on Presidential Debates having been its founding Co-Chairman and having served in that capacity for 21 years. 

The two are excited to witness what experts believe will be the most watched debate in history, according to The Hill.

“I think because you end up having the first woman candidate, and then just a very unusual candidate in Trump, that attention to this debate will be higher than most,” said Professor Ubertaccio.

He believes the importance of the debate stems less from any impact it might have on the race, and more on what it will tell us about the candidates. “We really get a sense of what the candidates are interested in. They’re not classical debates in the Lincoln-Douglas sense, but it’s the one opportunity where the candidates are unscripted, they have to respond in real time to important issues that are in front of them, and it also is a signal that we’re in the home stretch here.”

Rajadurai believes the debate is a good time for the candidates to vie for the all-important youth vote. “I think that in the long-term the youth vote is growing – it decided the election in 2012, it’s going to decide it in 2016, and it’s definitely important for candidates to get out and start talking to us,” he argued.

“If you asked me a month ago I would’ve thought that this race would have been a lot further apart,” said Rajadurai. “Now that it’s kind of tightened up, I’ll be very interested to see how both candidates react to that and see exactly how that plays out in an unscripted setting.”

Professor Ubertaccio agreed, and highlighted how little time people have left to take in information about the candidates and make up their minds on who to vote for.

“You only have a few more opportunities between now and November to get the lay of the land, to think about what these candidates stand for, to see how they respond to difficult issues,” said Ubertaccio. “So I’m excited in part because it’s kind of like the unofficial start to the end of this entire process when the whole country is paying attention.”