Bittersweet and salty; these two words describe the snacks at a presidential debate viewing party at the University of Kentucky and the tone of remarks exchanged between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Monday night.
The viewing party at UK’s White Hall Classroom Building was hosted by the College of Communication and Information’s Al Cross, a journalism faculty member and director of the school’s Institute for Rural Journalism.
“Debates aren’t what they used to be,” Cross said before the debate hosted by NBC’s “Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt. “How one looks and how one behaves can give you a clue into their attitude.”
The debate was shown on one screen while another screen featured a rundown of tweets from students and professors using the hashtag #ukpresdebate.
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On a few occasions, the more than three dozen UK students broke out into sighs, sneers and clapping as Clinton navigated through a series of Trump disruptions during a heated exchange on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a three-country trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
“Fact checkers, go to work,” Clinton said in response to Trump’s criticism of NAFTA.
One fact checker in the audience was the Kentucky Kernel’s editor-in-chief Marjorie Kirk. She was part of a group of four UK students tasked with parsing statements from both presidential hopefuls. It was not easy, Kirk said.
“Political events are some of my favorite to cover because of all of the drama, but none I’ve covered have been as exciting and fast-paced as this,” Kirk said.
Another student in the audience was doctoral candidate Timothy Bill, who is also the director of UK’s speech and debate team. Trump’s response to why he has yet to release his tax returns was thought out, Bill said.
“The best he could hope for was to deflect questions about his taxes and turn the questions back to Clinton,” Bill said. “So far, he’s managed to do that but Clinton seems determined to make it an issue.”