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South Dakotans react to first presidential debate

Tuesday night’s presidential debate received mixed reviews
Tuesday night’s presidential debate received mixed reviews
Tuesday night’s presidential debate received mixed reviews(Miranda O'Bryan)
Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 6:02 PM MDT
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SOUTH DAKOTA (KEVN) - Tuesday night’s presidential debate received mixed reviews

“What we see for a presidential debate or even a Congressional debate, is almost never anything that looks like what a high school debater once knew and loved," said Mark Vargo, former Stevens High School debate coach. "We call it a debate when perhaps it would be better to call it a discourse.”

Vargo said presidential debates are very different from the traditional debate form.

“It’s confrontational but it also isn’t nearly as rigorous," said Vargo. "In a collegiate or especially a high school debate, we absolutely expect people to be working off of evidence and facts and to argue about what those facts mean, instead and in a presidential debate, we mostly have people talking about opinion.”

Some people felt Tuesday night’s debate went well,

“I think that’s what the American people wanted to hear; cut through it, interrupt if you can and that’s what he did and I think that served him well and Republicans well," said Jeff Holbrook, Pennington County GOP Chairperson.

Others did not.

“Well I watched the entire debate and I really don’t think you can call it a debate, I feel like it was more of a verbal accosting from Trump all through that entire evening and the only real credible content that I received came from Joe Biden," said Pam Cole, South Dakota Democratic Party Executive Director.

Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, Vargo says moving to a more traditional debate form could ease some of the contention.

“Instead of appealing to a variety of emotional triggers and a variety of buzzwords, that those debates really did come back to what you believe and work backward from that to what the facts are that support it," said Vargo. "And that’s something that is absolutely part of every single high school and collegiate debate that is almost always completely lacking in a presidential debate.”

Tuesday night’s debate was the first of three. The other two will happen on October 15th and 22nd.

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