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OU students discuss final presidential debate

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OU students who attended a watch party for the final presidential debate at the Bizzell Memorial Library Oct. 19 had mixed opinions on the performance of Chris Wallace, debate moderator from Fox News. 

Wallace asked what many journalists thought were the toughest questions of the three debates. He pressed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on her speeches to big banks and the Clinton Foundation, and Republican nominee Donald Trump on his tax plan and recent allegations of sexual misconduct.

Wallace also asked Trump if he would accept the results of this year's election, to which Trump answered: "I will look at it at the time," and that he will keep people "in suspense."

Advertising senior Eric Cruz said he thought this third debate was heated, and that Wallace was able to ask valid questions, but could not control the candidates.

“I think he was able to grill both people with questions, at least in the beginning,” Cruz said. “I don’t think he could keep them on topic because both candidates managed to work their way to topics they were more comfortable with when certain questions were asked, and that was very clear to see, and he tried to bring it back, but at that point things had already been said.”

Political science and sociology senior Shireen Bell said she also thought Wallace was not able to keep the candidates on topic. 

“I wouldn’t say he was able to keep them on topic, but he did a good job with the timing issue,” Bell said. “He let each candidate have about the same amount of time and always made sure to correct candidates if what they were saying was a blatant lie or if they were talking way over time.”

Criminology freshman Jill Jennings said she thought Wallace was more of a middle man than previous moderators. 

“The thing is, I watched the second debate and it seemed like that one did a lot more targeting," she said. "And with this debate, it seemed that he was firm enough to make them stop talking and was able to get the answers he needed out of them. I thought he was more of a moderator during this debate; he wasn’t trying to beat down a certain party, he was trying to make sure they both had even playing grounds.”

Michael Carrier, the director of communications and outreach for the Political Communications Center at OU, said after having almost 500 students at the first presidential debate watch party the turnout was smaller than expected at the second watch party. 

“We had about 150 to 175 students come tonight,” Carrier said. “We felt this election was important enough to try and do something to educate everyone and inform everyone, and to give everyone an opportunity to have their say and make good choices on election day.”

There will also be a forum to discuss Oklahoma State Questions Oct. 27 and another watch party on election day Nov. 8, Carrier said.

Kayla Branch is a journalism senior and The Daily's enterprise editor. Previously, she has been the editor-in-chief, a news editor and covered the student government as a reporter.

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