‘Saddest thing I’ve seen’: Brockville residents react to the U.S. presidential debate

BROCKVILLE — Border towns along the St. Lawrence Seaway always keep an eye on U.S. politics, and reaction from the first U.S. presidential debate was summed up by one Brockville woman pretty easily.

“I thought it was an absolute ****show,” said Cindy Bernier while walking through downtown Brockville on Wednesday.

If there were a lot of people watching the debate between U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden on television Tuesday night, not many of them wanted to talk about it.

But those who did thought the display was disappointing.

“I thought it was a really sad commentary on how far down the United States has come in terms of public discourse, in terms of somebody respecting another person’s viewpoint,” said John, a Brockville resident.

“I thought it was just the saddest thing I’ve seen for a long time.”

 “It was a lot of mud slinging,” said Bernier.

“Biden, he kept his calm, cool, pretty much. Trump was just talking over everybody.”


Reaction from both U.S. party chapters here in Canada, whose goal it is to get the over 600-thousand Americans living in Canada to vote, was the same.

“My personal reaction is a little bit anxiety ridden,” said Mark Feigenbaum, Chairman of Republicans Overseas Canada.

“I’m not one really big on people talking over and both of them were doing that pretty heavily, so I found I was interested more in the content and it was kind of distracting all of the difficulty hearing anyone speak.”

Feigenbaum also thought that not many questions actually were answered during the 90 minute debate.

“I think the president was overpowering and interrupted more times than I would have but on the other hand I don’t think that the vice president, Joe Biden, actually answered a lot of the questions that I wanted to hear the answers too,” Feigenbaum said.

“I thought he had a very set script of things he needed to say in the time period.”

When asked if the debate was good for undecided voters, Feigenbaum doesn’t think it would have changed anyone’s mind.

“I think the people who were going to vote for the president were still going to vote for him, the people who were going to vote for the vice president are still going to vote for him,” said Feigenbaum.

“The issue really in the campaigning needs to be to talk to the undecided voter to get people to come out to vote and I’m not really sure that debate really swung anybody’s mind either way. I guess we’ll see on Election Day.”

Trump and Biden debate

Larry Rousseau from Democrats Abroad Canada in Ottawa is still in shock from last night’s event.

“It was really painful to watch and painful to hear the reaction, especially from around the world this morning,” Rousseau said.

“Everybody I think is just like in the same state that I am – did this really happen!?”

Rousseau also told CTV News that for a president who boasts about law and order, that seemed to disappear during the debate.

“Where was the respect for the engagement prior to the debate that he would allow his opponent to speak for two minutes? Where was the order? There was no order. This is not a president who respects order let alone law unless it applies to his advantage,” said Rousseau.

“If anything, my reaction, I am more committed than ever, not ony for voting but to making sure that every American in Canada who has a right to vote, looks at this and knows, if this is what we want for the next four years, it’s going to be to the detriment of Canada. It’s going to be to the detriment to the United States, and it’s not the right path,” Rousseau said.

“This is a do or die moment for the United States of America. It’s the time for all good people to come together and really make sure that we are making the decision between that by which we are going to live, prosper and reach equality,” Rousseau said.

“If you’re still on the fence after last night, I don’t know what to say.”

 Brockvillians, however, unsure if their southern neighbours will find unity, before or after Election Day.

“I just hope that somehow the states will come out of this in a better frame of mind and a better way,” said John.

“But I really have my doubts.”

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