SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A high school debate class in Sioux Falls described it in a variety of ways including chaotic, unorganized, unexpected, stressful and entertaining.
O’ Gorman Debate Coach Bob Stevens said there was numerous oddities during the presidential debate Tuesday night that could have contributed to why it seemed so stressful.
“Some of it I think was the format. Because, what to me was a bit unusual about this debate, I’m sure there have been others, but most of the presidential debates that I’ve watched in my adult life have started with an opening statement by each candidate and then going into questions and end with a closing statement. That didn’t happen,” Stevens said.
Stevens also said both President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden continued to interrupt each other during the two minutes each candidate was given to talk.
“Debaters are expected to follow rules, and the moderator really clearly laid out the rules at the start as to how many segments he was going to have, who was going to get the questions and so on. And frankly, neither candidate paid much attention to those rules,” Stevens said.
One thing that each candidate did, Stevens believes, is stick to the platform they wanted to follow. However, they did not follow the rules.
“The moderator might as well have not been there most of the night because, regardless, they just ignored the moderator. Maybe that’s the moderator’s fault, I don’t know. I’ve never been in the position to moderate one of these high stress debates like that,” Stevens said.
Stevens did say in the upcoming debates there will be different moderators, which could be a factor as to why the first debate was the way it was. He said other moderators may be able to handle the situation differently.
“It’s possible to disagree without being disagreeable and I found last night they went way beyond what’s normal for a presidential debate, in terms of being disagreeable. As far as I was concerned that applied to both candidates,” Stevens said.
Whether you thought the debate was stressful or not, Stevens says in no way did it correlate with what a high school debate tournament would look like.
“This is exactly why kids exactly needed to see this so they would learn what not to do. So, from that standpoint, I think my debate class at least learned something,” Stevens said.
The debate commission is also considering ‘changes’ to structure and the format of debates after a ‘chaotic’ first Trump-Biden contest.