6/28/19 Democratic debate 2019

Democratic presidential candidates attend the start of the first primary debate last week for the 2020 elections at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami.

After two nights of debates among 20 candidates vying to be the party’s nomination for president a political science professor said he found them surprisingly informative.

“It was less of a food fight and a sort of crazy 'Alice in Wonderland' event than I had expected going into it,” James McCann said Friday.

As for the candidates' performance, McCann said former vice president Joe Biden, the frontrunner, seemed underprepared.

McCann said he thought U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigeig, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, spoke substantially about issues.

Warren showed more policy depth than Bernie Sanders, he said, who ran for president in 2016.

“Bernie Sanders has very strong beliefs, but I think it was telling when he was asked last night, ‘Well, how are you going to get to universal health care?’, and his response was, ‘Well, we're just gonna have to take to the streets,’” he said.

McCann also addressed former Congressman Beto O’Rourke’s Spanish, laughing and saying it was “way better than George W. Bush's Spanish” but not as good as Buttigeig’s.

McCann said he was struck by Buttigeig’s response to a recent shooting in South Bend, where a black man was shot and killed by a white police officer and which has stirred anger in the black community over race relations and few minorities in police ranks.

“He's asked about it," the professor said, "and he came out immediately and owned it.”

Though McCann said the debates were helpful in understanding the candidates, many on campus said they did not watch the debates.

Abby Hahne, who was visiting Purdue as part of the STAR new-student program, said she didn’t watch the debates because she doesn’t have TV - and she doesn’t like debates anyway.

“They make me really uncomfortable,” she said, “and I don't feel like they give you the information you need.”

Dakota Do, a junior in aerospace engineering, also said he didn’t watch the debates.

He said he had homework, but he also said even if he didn’t, he still wouldn’t have watched them.

The second round of debates will be in July.

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