ISU students react to Democratic debate

Bernie Sanders supporters watch the debate at Jeff’s Pizza on Tuesday. The presidential candidates included Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee. 

Alex Hanson

Democratic presidential candidates debated for the first time Thursday night 1,400 miles away in Las Vegas, but ISU students had the chance to catch the event at several watch parties around campus and Ames.

The debate had five participants — Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee — and the Clinton, Sanders and O’Malley campaigns setup watch locations for supporters.

“I really don’t have anyone I am supporting [at this point], but I thought since Hillary was being attacked from all sides, she did not cause any damage to herself, which is a victory, and everyone else stayed the same,” said Madison Fisher, a sophomore in pre-business who was at a watch party in Hamilton Hall.

“I think its [was] a good debate, they’ve stayed on topic,” said Hannah Harfst, freshman in apparel, merchandising and design who was at the Clinton watch party.

There were several back and forth discussions between candidates, including one over guns between all five. Clinton called Sanders history on gun control legislation “not at all” sufficient to prevent future violence.

“He did a very good job of expressing his policy,” said Rosie Cook, freshman in pre business and president of the Students for Bernie group at ISU. “I was very impressed by him as a candidate for the way he handled talking to other candidates.”

But Clinton supporters thought she did a good job at getting her argument across.

“I believe some over her points on gun violence at the beginning of the debate were pretty strong,” said Colette Manley, sophomore in animal science who was at the Clinton party.

College affordability — something that students will likely pay most attention to — was also brought up during the debate.

“The most important thing for me is her new college compact because I went to community college last year,” Harfst said. “She wants to make it free for everyone and to make four year schools more affordable to everyone.”

But Sanders’ plan for free college education is something students will likely latch onto. 

“Someone made a comment on Hilary’s last name and she just said it doesn’t matter what her last name is, it just matters that we move forward,” Harfst said.

“I’m hoping the debate tonight will just get his name out more,” Cook said.

“I think the debate was pretty irrelevant to the candidates standings,” Fisher said.

O’Malley held a watch party at a home of a supporter in Ames, while Chafee and Webb, sitting at around one percent in most polls, did not have supporters in Ames holding watch parties.

Reporters Shannon McCarty and Kelsey Palmros contributed to this story.