Among the up to 100 million watching Monday’s presidential debate were about 300 Oberlin College students at Dye Lecture Hall.
The debate was sponsored by Oberlin College Democrats and the Hillary Clinton campaign and the room was packed with Clinton supporters.
There was silence when Trump pointed out that Clinton flip-flopped on the Trans Pacific-Partnership, the trade agreement between the U.S. and 10 other nations, which she called “the gold standard” while secretary of state before renouncing it as a candidate. Trump’s condemnation of Clinton for referring to black youths in 1996 as “super predators” — she apologized in February — was also met with silence.
There were cheers, however, when Clinton noted Trump and his father were sued in 1973 by the U.S. Department of Justice for housing discrimination. Trump settled the lawsuit but noted he didn’t admit guilt.
Applause also greeted the way Clinton described Trump’s tax cut plan as “trumped-up, trickle-down.” It was a reference to President Ronald Reagan’s “trickle down” economic policy in the 1980s in which the rich received huge tax cuts that supporters said would lead them to spend and create jobs.
Trump said he was proud of his plan. However, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center said it would give the wealthiest 0.1 percent of Americans $3.7 million tax cuts in 2017 compared to $2,700 for middle-income earners. The center said it would add $24.5 trillion to the deficit in the next 20 years.
Trump was booed for linking crime to immigrants here illegally and laughed at when Clinton noted he called global warming a hoax. Trump denied it, but in 2012 tweeted that the concept was created by the Chinese to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive. Clinton also drew big applause for saying Trump lacked a plan to defeat ISIS.
Fact-checkers noted Trump lied when he denied saying he opposed the war in Iraq before it began. He expressed support for it in his 2000 book and in a 2002 radio interview, according to www.factcheck.org.
The New York Times and NPR said Trump also repeatedly made inaccurate statements such as saying the U.S. isn’t updating its nuclear arsenal. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the U.S. will spend $348 billion in upgrades between 2015 and 2024.
“It’s really amazing how uninformed Donald Trump is on a lot of issues,” said student David Boeckh, a junior from Seattle. “I really admire Hillary for conducting herself with a lot of dignity in the face of that.”
Boeckh said Trump has a “disregard for the facts,” but worried that undecided voters who don’t follow the issues closely will be bamboozled. “He says stuff with such conviction that to many people who don’t know what’s been happening, it seems as if it’s true,” he said.
David Hansen, a senior from Los Angeles, said he was “flabbergasted” how Trump’s disregard for facts has been so successful. Hansen said most voters are locked in to their candidate and doubted the debate will change many minds.
“We just seem incapable of having an intelligent discussion,” he said. “A democracy is ultimately only going to be as strong as the voters who inform it and whether or not they are informed or can make rational discussions.”
Polls show Clinton and Trump neck-and-neck.
FiveThirtyEight, run by analyst Nate Silver, models results from a wide array of polls and following the debate calculated Clinton had a 55.5 percent chance of winning the election. Trump has a 62 percent chance of winning Ohio, the numbers show.
The last president elected without winning Ohio was John F. Kennedy in 1960. Clinton’s Oberlin College organizer, Omar Ansari, before the debate asked for the crowd’s support.
“There’s no decision that’s going to affect the world in the next four years more than who’s the president of the United States,” he said. “The whole world right now is watching to see what happens in Ohio.”
Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.
Evan Goodenow | Oberlin News-Tribune Some 300 Oberlin College students watched Monday’s presidential debate at Dye Lecture Hall, gauging how Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump fared.