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Students at Cal State San Marcos fill the Student Union on Monday to watch the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Photo by Tony Cagala
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CSUSM students weigh in on presidential debate

SAN MARCOS — It wasn’t Monday Night Football, but it could just as well have been with the hits exchanged between the two opposing sides.

On Monday, 86 million people watched the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Among those watching included students at Cal State University San Marcos.

The college’s Associated Student’s, Inc., hosted a debate viewing party at the Student Union, and the turnout was surprising, said Chris Morales, vice president of student and university affairs.

During the debate, students laughed as Trump and Clinton bickered back and forth over who was using the “facts.” While some students applauded in support of Trump when he exhorted Clinton to release her 35,000 deleted emails in exchange for the release of his tax returns.

Morales, 21, said it was too hard to get a sense of the political leanings of students on campus.

“We’re definitely a diverse campus,” Morales said. “I think there’s definitely a variety — a diversity of preferences for president.”

Following the debate, most of the students seemed nonplussed by the candidates — Chris Magnuson, a junior, said these were the two worst candidates he’s ever seen in his life.

“Growing up my whole life, even when I wasn’t voting, I think these are the two worst candidates that have ever been offered to the American people,” said Magnuson, 27, and a military veteran. “They’re both deeply flawed.”

Though he said there was one thing he agreed with Trump on, that current energy policies are causing problems, he would be voting for Clinton in November.

The debate showed Magnuson that Trump’s temperament, his yelling and screaming and cutting off (debate moderator) Lester Holt numerous times, wasn’t very presidential.

“It just proves to me that he’s just too quick to anger,” Magnuson said. “And I do agree with (Clinton) that’s not really something you want when someone has their hand on the nukes, even though I know it’s not that simple.”

He said he’ll be watching the next two presidential debates looking to see where the candidates come down on the costs of education.

Even though he’s able to attend school right now through the G.I. Bill, he knows he’ll take on debt when he goes for his master’s degree.

“Plus I’m concerned because my little brother and sister…our family’s a low-income family, so to see what’s going to happen for them, because they’re two years away from starting school themselves.”

More policies for lower-income people, college student tuition and loans and debts were just some of the issues that student Brandy Williams was looking to hear about from Clinton.

A former Sen. Bernie Sanders supporter, Williams is throwing her support behind Clinton.

“I’m hopping onto Hillary because we understand — people who are true Bernie Sanders followers, understand the outcomes — not just the president’s four years, but what these presidents, and who they can put into office…how that’s going to affect us in the long run…they understand that Hillary is the best.”

Yet she wasn’t able to give Clinton a ringing endorsement following the debate.

“I don’t think she’s (Clinton) as great as I would’ve hoped a president could be, but she’s the lesser of two evils.”

Williams, 21, said there wasn’t a clear winner in the debate and that neither of the candidates she feels, are a good representation of her ideas.

“I don’t think they represent me as a lower income. They mainly represent — Hillary Clinton is middle-class, Donald Trump is very far from all of us,” she said.

As a woman, though, Williams said there is a sense of pride with Clinton’s run for the White House — something that might be going a little less noticed due to Trump’s antics.

“Had Donald Trump not been so radical, and we’re so caught up in all the craziness he’s saying, people would’ve noticed that this is the first woman running for president. And I feel like everyone’s missing that,” said Williams.

However, if Trump does get elected, Williams said she would have to start to promote more politics and have to start getting involved with organizations that promote knowledge of politics.

She’s fearful that, as an African American, issues of race will become more prominent should Trump and his policies get into the White House.

“I believe there’s going to be attacks,” Williams said. “I believe after a while there’s going to be people who are upset, whether they be on the side of Trump or not the side of Trump, they’re going to be upset because of things that are going in play.

“I think it’s physically going to get worse,” she said. “I feel like it might regardless (if Trump gets elected), but more so if he’s elected,” she added.