Candidates were disrespectful, viewers say
Published: Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Updated: Thursday, October 14, 2010 03:10
Standing outside of Mitchell Hall, Joe Bodnar of Wilmington folded his arms across his chest and contemplated how he felt about the candidates vying for Vice President Joe Biden's vacant Senate seat.
"I don't know that either candidate will be terribly effective," Bodnar said.
University community members packed into Mitchell Hall and Wolf Hall, as well as various viewing parties on campus, Wednesday night to watch the nationally televised debate between Republican candidate Christine O'Donnell and Democratic candidate Chris Coons. For Bodnar, it was important that the candidates presented clearly their hopes for the future of the First State.
"Whoever goes down to Washington will have a really uphill battle in order to build coalitions and get agendas accomplished for Delaware," he said.
Junior Eric McGinnis said although he is from Pennsylvania, he joined the College Republicans in Gore Hall to watch a live broadcast of the debate because the candidates' stark differences in core beliefs has made for an interesting Senate race so far. He said the candidates lacked professionalism during rebuttals and discussions.
"I didn't really think either of them interacted as respectfully as they should have," McGinnis said. "I think their answers were far too long and they dodged actually answering the questions far too much, especially evident in Christine O'Donnell's attempt to avoid answering the evolution question and Chris Coons with the question based on cap and trade and his affiliation with [W.L.] Gore."
He said the frequent mention of the candidates' personal histories disrupted the discussions.
"They kept on saying that neither of them was going to bring up things that happened in the past that aren't relevant to the campaign—issues in personal life—and they both continually did," McGinnis said. "It really slowed the debate down, and it prevented useful conversation to take place."
Junior Matt Coogan also watched the debate unfold at the College Republicans' viewing party. He said the candidates' snippy attitudes toward each other may hurt their image.
"I think Chris Coons in particular came off as a little flippant, a little bit meaner than he should have—that probably didn't resonate well with people," Coogan said. "But Christine also went in for a few digs; maybe that won't resonate well either. But I think she did a better job than Chris Coons. I think you can question the substance of some of what she was saying but I think her packing was a lot better."
Senior Andrew Meltzer, who called himself an "election nut," said the candidates acted exactly as he thought they would.
"I'm glad they didn't hold back and argued with each other and didn't just hold to their platitudes," Meltzer said.
Before the debate, he said he was eager "to see if Christine O'Donnell could speak with substance, but she failed." He referred to O'Donnell's inability to recall a recent Supreme Court decision she objected to as abysmal.
"I want the people who represent us to be intelligent and civic," Meltzer said. "I don't want some regular Joe Schmo in office—I want someone who knows history and law."
Senior Carling Ryan said she attended the debate because she is concerned about Delaware politics and wanted to hear the candidates' views on important issues. She said Coons presented himself to voters better than O'Donnell did.
"I thought that one was a little bit immature and somewhat childish and wasn't really professional about voicing her opinion," Ryan said. "And one was much more positive and mature and able to get his opinion across in a much more appropriate fashion.
Senior Danny Hill, vice president of the College Republicans, said the debate was contentious and heated, but he was impressed by the candidates.
"Chris Coons is a very eloquent speaker, but I think that Christine did present herself well," Hill said. "But there were a few stumbling remarks."
McGinnis said he thought O'Donnell and Coons avoided discussing many hot-button issues in depth. He would have liked the candidates to further discuss renewable energy, education and solutions for energy independence, among other issues.
"I would have liked to see more discussion on gay rights," he said. "I would have really liked to see a question about gay marriage, but I guess they didn't have time for that because they were too busy bickering."
Melissa Howard contributed to this article.