In a decidedly un-presidential street fight replete with name-calling and constant interruptions, the issues got lost, said locals interviewed Wednesday.
HARWICH PORT — There was a lot at stake in Tuesday’s debate, the first of what some are calling the most important election in a lifetime. Citing preliminary Nielsen ratings, CNN estimated a total of 65 million viewers.
Brief interviews at a strip mall and post office in Harwich Port indicated that many did watch, and that most watched the entire 90 minutes. But in a decidedly un-presidential street fight replete with name-calling and constant interruptions from both candidates, the issues got lost, said those interviewed Wednesday morning.
Barbara Denver, 69, Harwich Port
“I was hoping I would get a clearer understanding of each candidate’s positions. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.”
Too much bantering, Denver said, and President Donald Trump was un-presidential and a bully.
“I’m a retired middle school principal and he reminded me of a boy who is troubled and wholly alienated and becomes a bully.”
Denver, who is a Biden supporter, said she was glad her candidate “didn’t lose his train of thought to the point where he wandered off topic.”
“He wanted to direct himself to the American people rather than bantering back and forth.”
Denver kept watching because she hoped President Trump would stop interrupting Biden and the two could begin debating the issues. So, will she tune in again?
“I was so looking forward to these debates,” she said. “I’m not sure I’m going to continue. It’s an embarrassment.”
Paul Bartley, mid-70s, Harwich Port
“I was hoping they’d discuss some of the issues, but they never seemed to get there,” Bartley said. He’s an Independent voter who supports Trump, but bemoaned the constant interruptions from both candidates.
“The style was unacceptable,” he said. He hopes both candidates learned from the experience and the next debate would focus on issues.
“First of all, their name-calling of each other, that’s got to stop. If it doesn’t, we’ll just have a repeat of last night.”
Bartley thought Biden showed his age.
“I don’t mean that disrespectfully because I’m an old man, too. But look what the job did to previous presidents. I’m not confident Biden is up for four years at that job.”
Bartley wasn’t concerned about Trump’s response to moderator Chris Wallace’s request for him to denounce white supremacy militia groups. Many interpreted Trump’s “Proud Boys (a known hate group) stand back and stand by” more as a call to arms than a denunciation.
“It’s a straight question, but I don’t see the relevance of it,” Bartley said. He said the riots in the West and Midwest were not caused by right-wing militias.
“I don’t see any problems with white supremacists,” he said. “COVID is relevant, the economy is relevant, law and order is relevant.”
William King, 52, Yarmouth
William King watched a little of the debate Tuesday night.
“It wasn’t that exciting,” he said. “It’s the same show it is every year; not based in reality, just what they say for sound bites.”
King is a Republican and a Trump supporter.
“He did no worse than he’s done before,” King said. “For his lack of eloquence, I can say he makes money and our economy isn’t doing any worse than it was when he started.”
But King did not agree with Biden telling the president to shut up.
“No one gives him any respect. He’s the president,” King said. “I don’t necessarily agree with him personally. I don’t want to be his friend or anything.”
Michael Querner, 68, Harwich Port
Michael Querner did not watch the debate.
“What I thought was going to happen, happened. I thought it was going to be a mess.”
Querner, who said he’d vote for Biden, read about the debate Wednesday morning.
“I’m not sure a lot came out of it; so much noise and not a lot of substance.”
Although the debate would not have changed his vote, he worries that the country’s two presidential candidates can’t talk to one another.
“It’s a bad example, when you think of people who are running for president, and they are behaving this way.
Biden, at least, looked into the camera and appeared more empathetic, but “overall, I think it was an embarrassment.”
Joan Lorusso, Harwich Port
Joan Lorusso watched the entire debate with a kind of morbid fascination.
“I had a fear of missing out, that something’s going to happen here, but unfortunately, I don’t think a lot of good happened.”
Lorusso was disappointed in the lack of real information on how candidates would deal with major issues and real information backing up their positions.
“I wanted to hear what the future, coming out of COVID, was going to be. Instead, it was a lot of blaming going back and forth.”
Although she declined to say who’d she would vote for this November, Lorusso thought Biden fared better.
“He was a little more reserved. He didn’t feed into it all.”
Tammy DePasquale, Harwich
Tammy DePasquale kept watching the debate because it was such a “train wreck.”
“I don’t think there was a clear winner because not all the questions were answered directly and determining a winner is the result of them answering questions.”
DePasquale was not pleased with the conspiracy theories, like the mail-in voting fraud alleged by Trump.
“A lot of that was unnecessary and it just confuses people.”
She was not pleased when Trump didn’t denounce white supremacists.
“It was more of a shout-out to them,” she said.
DePasquale would like to see questions come from the public “to change it up a little bit. We’ve already seen what a moderator can do.”
Follow Doug Fraser on Twitter: @DougFraserCCT.