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SU political science professor rates first presidential debate useless

President Joe Biden speaking at podium in front of Investing in America sign
Nicole Hopwood
President Joe Biden celebrates the Micron deal at the Museum of Science and Technology in downtown Syracuse on Thursday, April 25.

A political science professor at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School thinks most voters were disappointed with the first Presidential debate and dissatisfied with at least one candidate… or both. Grant Reeher says the American people didn’t really walk away being more informed about the candidates. He says President Biden looked frail the moment he appeared on stage.

“And oftentimes, he was almost impossible to follow, unless you had a deep knowledge of that policy area, then you would know what beating Medicare meant. You know, that meant they beat the corporations that resisted negotiation of prices on Medicare or lowering the price of insulin. But you had to decipher that for yourself.”

Reeher says Biden lost in the first 30 minutes of the debate, while Donald Trump came off as more rational and presidential-like. Although, he says Trump became more over the top as the debate progressed… like he was at a campaign rally.

"And so you had the hyperbole. You had things that weren't true. You had, ‘I'm the best that ever was in every single category. President Biden is the worst that ever was in every single category.’ That doesn't help the voters figure anything out, really. They kind of already know that that's the way he presents himself.”

For that reason, he says President Biden faired better during the second half of the debate because he attempted to answer questions but, remained somewhat confusing to follow. By comparison, the professor says Trump seemed to answer every US Policy question by making references to US immigration and the border crisis - because he feels they’re both winning issues for him. To prepare for the next debate, he feels campaign advisors might want to tell Trump to stay, “out of the gutter.” He also suggests President Biden’s advisors work on getting him more energized and more prepared to outline his accomplishments such as his economic policies.