Manhattan Caucus is a column in the news section, which will run weekly until Election Day, offering students a voice in the ongoing presidential elections.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald J. Trump debated for the third and final time Wednesday night in Las Vegas, Nevada. The debate was the most substantive of the three – but still featured some heated and personal clashes between the candidates.
The debate opened with the topic of the Supreme Court. Trump stressed that the justices he would appoint would be pro-life and pro-gun rights, while Clinton focused on L.G.B.T. issues and electoral issues like Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission.
On the abortion issue, the students interviewed by the Quadrangle are mostly pro-choice, and would prefer pro-choice Supreme Court justices.
“It’s no one’s business but the mother’s, because she’s the one who’s going to have to live with that decision for the rest of her life,” said student Ellissa Rosado, a Democrat who supported Bernie Sanders in the primary.
But Rosado doesn’t think Trump’s stances are all that genuine. “I think [Trump’s] going to say whatever he needs to say to get votes,” Rosado said. “He knows the kind of people he attracts, he’s going to say whatever he needs to say to attract those people.”
“If you get your girlfriend pregnant, you’re not in the right place to say, ‘Oh you have to get that aborted,’ or, ‘Oh, you have to keep it,” freshman Jack Consolini said. “It’s their body. It’s their choice.”
Amanda Nunez views abortion as a public health issue.
“People who want or are adamant on getting abortions are going to do it regardless, and I feel like if you make it illegal, and you make it harder for women to get the resources to get abortions, you’re just putting them in danger of risky stuff,” Nunez said.
Responding to a question on immigration, Trump said, “We stop the drugs. We shore up the border. One of my first acts will be to get all the drug lords, all the bad ones – we have some bad, bad people in this country that have to go out.” He later added, “But we have some bad ‘hombres’ here and we’re going to get them out.”
Sophomore Justin Zank, a Trump supporter, agrees with Trump’s stance on immigration.
“People are here illegally – and they shouldn’t be here. It’s as simple as that,” Zank said. “Obviously Donald Trump isn’t going to deport 11 million – however many people are here illegally. But if he can get out some of the people who are really causing issues, I think that’s great.”
Zank thinks that ideally, all illegal immigrants would be deported, but he acknowledges the challenges associated with such an operation.
“It’s unrealistic to make that happen and the consequences that it could have on our economy is – who knows what it could do. I’d say – focus on deporting those who are committing crime.”
Freshman Seane Sakunanathan agrees that illegal immigrants who commit violent crimes should be deported, but disagrees with the deportation of non-violent illegal immigrants.
“We shouldn’t be putting them in a jail cell if they’re not here legally, because we are paying for them,” Sakunanthan said of violent illegal alien criminals.
But Sakunanathan took objection with Trump’s choice of the word “hombre.” “You can’t just stereotype… it’s like racism,” Sakunanathan said.
Phoebe Torsilieri disagrees with Trump, saying, “There needs to be an easy path to citizenship. We need to do it.” Torsilieri also took exception with Trump’s word choice, calling it “unacceptable.” She plans to vote for Clinton.
WikiLeaks leaked part of a transcript of a private speech Clinton gave to a Brazilian bank in which she said, “My dream is a hemispheric common market with open trade and open borders.” But in the debate, Clinton said, “We will not have open borders,” and since launching her campaign has adopted more protectionist views, including taking a stance against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (T.P.P.).
“Hillary, at the end of the day, is a politician, and politicians at the end of the day say things that they don’t really mean,” Torsilieri explained. Torsilieri says that she preferred Sanders in the primary.
“I don’t really trust her, but, I don’t know, I’m really conflicted,” Torsilieri said.
“Is she telling the truth? Is she lying,” sophomore John Quinn asked. Quinn, a self-described independent, finds it hard to believe what Clinton says, and is leaning towards Trump.
“You can’t really take what she says as fact,” Zank said. When asked if Zank believes what Clinton says, he responded, “Not at all. Not a word.”
Trump addressed the allegations of sexual assault that have been swirling around him, saying, “those stories have been largely debunked.” He added, “These women, the woman on the plane, the – I think they either want fame or [Clinton’s] campaign did it.”
Torsilieri and Nunez believe the accusations, even if they don’t see much proof.
“I feel like there’s no definite proof… but I wouldn’t be surprised, after hearing what he said,” Nunez said, referencing a lewd video from 2005 leaked by the Washington Post in which Trump bragged about how he can kiss and grope women without consequence because of his stardom.
But Nunez also added, “You need to take the woman’s word for it.”
Zank remains skeptical of the charges, saying that the timing is suspicious.
“I think it’s very ironic that now in October, when Donald Trump never had these issues before, now all of a sudden these women are coming out. I think it’s very ironic,” Zank said. “If this was true, it would’ve come out a while ago.”
Torsilieri believes that the women now have a safe space to make their voices heard, drawing comparisons between Trump’s accusers and the multiple women who accused comedian Bill Cosby, Jr. of sexual assault in 2014 and 2015.
“One woman spoke out and then a bunch of women felt comfortable enough to say, ‘Hey, this happened to me, too,” Torsilieri said. “I think that we shouldn’t be debating the timing of it because at the end of the day this is what somebody said happened and we should be taking that seriously.”
Trump did not indicate either way if he would accept the results of the election, saying, “I will look at it at the time,” arguing that the results may be tainted by voter fraud. Clinton called Trump’s refusal to unequivocally accept the result “horrifying.” In Ohio on Thursday, Trump said, “I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election, if I win.”
“He’s being asked this question because he has in so many different ways, tried to delegitimize the outcome,” said Margaret Groarke, Ph.D., associate professor of government.
“He can say whatever he wants, just like Clinton can say whatever she wants to say,” Zank said. “It’s tough with this election because the media has been so biased, and it’s been so difficult – especially on Donald.”
Zank also fears that “there is a massive amount of voter fraud.” But Groarke argues that charges of widespread voter fraud are trumped up.
“We have almost no voter fraud in the United States, so this is a fairly false charge that is being brought up for partisan reasons, in order to support more restrictive voting laws,” Groarke said.
Clinton took a jab at Trump, saying, “My Social Security payroll contribution will go up, as will Donald’s, assuming he can’t figure out how to get out if it.” Trump interjected, “Such a nasty woman.”
Trump’s statement has drawn criticism from Clinton supporters. But Zank argues that this is Trump being Trump, and finds no fault with the personal tone of the comment.
“The whole political correctness thing – I think we need to stop worrying so much about what can we say – what can’t we say,” Zank said. “If he wants to say that that’s fine, that’s Donald’s style. He’s not a politician.”
Quinn disagreed, saying, “I think it is a little beneath a presidential candidate to say in a presidential debate.” But Quinn said that the wacky nature of 2016, including the controversy over Clinton’s use of a private email server while Secretary of State, makes the comment more acceptable in perspective.
“He shouldn’t have said it, but people were expecting it to happen,” Sakunanthan said. “They’ve been acting like this the entire debate, just bickering at each other.”