Local experts weigh in ahead of second and final presidential debate

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The stage is set for the second and final presidential debate Thursday night.

The first presidential debate quickly spiraled into chaos. Unlike at the last debate, the Commission for the Presidential Debates says microphones for each candidate will be muted while the other is speaking, in order to allow each candidate their full two minutes to answer each question.

“The commission’s decision, I think, is really going to facilitate better conversation,” CFCC Political Science Instructor Nelson Beaulieu said.

Educators from both UNCW and Cape Fear Community College weighed in, saying it’s disappointing it had to come to this, but think it will help each candidate gets their ideas across.

“Ideally, they’ll lay out their platforms uninterrupted and that should ideally, mean that the rest of the discussion around those platforms will be better,” UNCW Communication Studies Department Chair Dr. Rick Olsen said.

While it will likely be helpful to have microphones muted, Olsen says the Commission’s decision to do so is a shame.

The idea that America needs a mute button to choose a president is embarrassing to hopefully everybody,” he said. “Both candidates, democrats and republicans.

Olsen encourages young voters to watch the debate objectively.

“Just go who won that exchange rather than diving in and being a Biden supporter from the beginning or a Trump supporter and going, how did Trump win that?” Olsen said. “Well, maybe he didn’t and maybe it’s still okay to vote for him, but he didn’t win that exchange.”

With a record low number of undecided voters, Beaulieu says he doubts the debate will have an impact at the polls, but he still hopes for better from both sides.

“If both of these people can raise their game and just raise the level of decency in American politics, everybody benefits,” Beaulieu said.

For those who do watch, he says they should form and focus on their own opinions.

“There’s a tendency to go watch the pundits, watch what people like me say about the debates. Don’t do that, watch for yourself. Have your own opinion. That’s the most important thing,” Beaulieu said.

You can watch the debate at 9PM on WWAY ABC and CBS.

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