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What did you think of Monday's debate?

The great debate Monday between presidential candidates business tycoon Donald Trump and former U.S. Senator, Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton drew the biggest debate audience in history, 84 million, surpassing the 1980 debate of Ronald Reagan and President Jimmy Carter.

There were countless parties and crammed taverns with eager watchers challenging each other to down a shot with each lie of the candidate they hated. It was high entertainment, because the two were such radically different personalities — one seen (by detractors) as a bombastic, fast-talking carnival barker with no experience and the other as a cold, calculating creature of the establishment, hard to cozy up to.

Perhaps the only things they had in common were that they both were running for president and they have the highest negatives in the history of polling for major party candidates.

To put it mildly, charges were caustic and frequent, tempers ran high, bragging rights were claimed and barking interruptions passed as polite, everyday speech.

There is no question that the debate — with two more to follow — served their main purpose: to educate a usually cynical and disengaged electorate and make voters embrace the reality that knowledge, not opinion, is what makes a wise and informed citizenry and a good administration.

The 90 minutes flew by, with complex economic, judicial and military policies explained in shorthand rhetoric, with no fact-checking on-screen, though one smaller network announced it would slap fact-checks on screen in real time, a practice that probably will be welcomed in the future, at least by those whose “facts” check out.

In the hot-tempered foundry of debate, new words were coined (both by Trump) – braggadocious and “bigly.” These newborn words will likely become part of American English, as they bring a smile to the face and are wonderfully descriptive.

We asked Ashlanders at the Tuesday Growers Market what they thought of the debate. Many said they didn’t have the stomach or were too upset by the race to watch. Those who saw it had plenty of opinions.

Kate Levine, who declined a photo, said, “Both sides were scary. Trump could relate to business and money better. Hillary had no effect, so it’s hard to know what’s real in her. Trump was rude. Our daughter said Hillary won. Trump was a loose cannon. We can’t put him behind the (nuclear) button or the world could go up in a big cloud. She wore all red. She could have broken it up with other colors.”

One woman, who declined to give her name, said she is a linguist and “spotted many tactics of the carnival huckster and snake oil salesman, such as bait and switch, and leaving sentences unfinished so you finish them in your mind.”

Another woman, who also declined to give her name, said “It was good to see the body language. Hillary is very composed. She won by a long shot. There were lots of lies from Trump and his stuff about Obama’s birth is ridiculous.”

Scott Ford — They both were kind of disappointing to me. They didn’t really answer questions on issues, but bickered too much. I would like to see more independent candidates debating there and get more opinions. My favorite moment is when it was over. Hillary is a traditional politician. Trump is a loose cannon. I would choose Hillary because of her experience.

Janeck Gala — It gave me a headache. I thought Trump was a moron. He has no idea what he’s talking about. He’s out there in his own zone. He can’t talk decently to any woman or man. He doesn’t deserve to be in that office. He actually was rude and interrupted her a lot. Just wait your turn. A woman will let you speak, though it might take time. My favorite moment is when she called him a racist. The press needed to say that, but they aren’t.

Bill Prahl — I didn’t look forward to seeing either of them. She kept her composure more. He kept interrupting, so it was an argument fest, not a debate. He kept going on and on about his success and what he has and how well he’s done. There was no high point that I found enlightening.

Annette Brothy — I found it irritating. Both seemed unable to listen. The continual interruptions. Trump seemed so arrogant. It was hard to watch. He made me uncomfortable, uneasy. I find him disturbing, rude and arrogant.

Sally Jones — Hillary had it all the way, such a class act. She answered all the questions and he evaded them. He was rude. The moderator should have kept him in line. She is so experienced. We’re really going to have to get out the vote because the white males support Trump. We have to get out Hispanics, blacks, women. She was successful all the way through and had dignified answers for everything and he didn’t.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

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