Brigham Young University students gathered in the JSB auditorium on Wednesday evening to watch the GOP debate and listen to post-commentary led by political science professors Richard Davis and Sven Wilson.
“We saw many credible candidates who were finally able to get some attention. The very fact that other people got to display their skills and show who they really are meant that voters got to see more than just Donald Trump,” Davis said.
Davis also said he thinks some voters may shift seeing there could be other candidates who don’t have the “negatives of Donald Trump.”
Candidates who’s voices were heard a bit louder during the Wednesday night debate included former business executive Carly Fiorina, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Fiorina secured the voters’ attention and applause in her descriptive discourse against planned parenthood.
“I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, ‘we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain,” Fiorina said in reference to video clips produced by the Center for Medical Progress.
Fiorina also spoke out for women’s rights when she denied the suggestion to put a woman on the $10 bill. “I think, honestly, it’s a gesture,” Fiorina said. “We ought to recognize that women are not a special interest group.”
Other topics discussed in depth included foreign policy, immigration policy, taxes, vaccinations, climate change, and legalization of marijuana.
However, personal track records seemed to solicit the biggest appeal to voters and candidates alike.
Wilson’s response to who won the debate was this: “I really think the loser on this debate was CNN. They fed into the sad and discouraging part of this campaign; that it has become a reality TV show event.”
Wilson said governing is difficult and, “moving the needle in any direction doesn’t happen just by being a reality TV star.”
Discussion on track records consisted largely of a back-and-forth cantor between Trump and Fiorina regarding their individual business success.
Bush volunteered himself as the brunt of many jokes given by the other candidates, by openly admitting to his use of marijuana as a young adult.
Trump attempted to counter pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson’s claim that there is no direct correlation between vaccinations and autism by sharing an experience of a family he knows.
“Two and a half years old; a beautiful child went to have the vaccine and came back and a week later…now is autistic,” Trump said.
Communications student Merri Golightly from Las Vegas, Nevada said she wonders if the discussion on track records even matters.
“It was interesting to see the candidates fight for time, and it’s definitely hard not to pay attention to the people who are more charismatic instead of what they’re actually saying,” Golightly said.
Pre-management student Brixton Gardner from Fresno, California said he felt disappointed by the lack of discussion on important issues in the last hour of the debate, like the conflict in the Middle East; particularly with ISIS and Syria.
“America needs a strong leader. I think people are going to naturally gravitate toward the candidate who is passionate, strongly determined, and has an opinion they will follow through with,” Gardner said. He also said at this point it is too early to tell who that candidate is.