Two American expats now living in Saskatoon say neither U.S. presidential candidate succeeded in winning over undecided voters in their first debate on Tuesday night.
The first debate between Republican incumbent Donald Trump and Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden involved a lot of interruptions, yelling and personal attacks. At one point, Biden told Trump to shut up.
"I don't think the debate changed any minds, really," Beau Sutton, an expat from New York who who usually votes Democrat, said Wednesday on CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.
"I don't think Trump gave any idea of what he wants to do in his second term. I think Biden was really restricted in being able to tell what he would do."
Ben Dunning, an expat originally from Wisconsin who is leaning toward voting Republican, said the reaction to the debate is "bringing Americans together."
"They seem to agree that it was a mess," Dunning told Saskatoon Morning.
"I'm also looking forward to the second debate, because neither candidate really convinced me of anything."
Dunning saw a lot of tactical errors being made, including Trump's frequent interruptions of his opponent. Because Biden often contradicts himself, Dunning says, Trump should have just let him talk. Meanwhile, Biden did not dive deep into his own plans, Dunning said.
The big takeaway for Sutton, though, was that Trump behaved just as he always has throughout his political career.
"He's a bully. He interrupts. He doesn't feel that the rules apply to him," Sutton said.
"I think Biden showed that he's not the kind of guy who's going to take that."
Trump avoids condemning white supremacists
Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace, who moderated the debate, asked Trump at one point if he would condemn white supremacists, such as the people who lit torches and marched in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017 — a rally that left one person dead.
Trump refused to make such a condemnation, initially replying, "What do you want to call them? Give me a name. Give me a name."
When Wallace mentioned the far-right group Proud Boys, Trump replied "Proud Boys stand back, stand by," and added "somebody's got to do something about [the anti-fascist movement] Antifa and the left, because this is not right-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem."
Dunning, who is right-leaning, said he couldn't understand why the president couldn't "call a spade a spade in this instance."
"He's making a political move, trying not to alienate as many people as possible," he said. But Biden did not capitalize on the error, Dunning said, because he went on to call Antifa "an idea."
Sutton agreed that both candidates made errors in that moment, but disagreed the mistakes were equal.
"Trump pretty much explicitly told the Proud Boys — which is a very organized group — to stand by," Sutton said. "This is similar to what he did [in the 2016 race] when he said that a Second Amendment person should take care of [Democratic candidate] Hillary Clinton."
How can candidates earn these expats' votes?
Dunning is on the fence about who to vote for at the moment.
In 2016, he did not mail in a vote, saying he could not support either Trump or Clinton. He said he won't vote this time either, if neither candidate can convince him they should lead the United States of America.
Dunning said in order to swing his vote, Biden would have to demonstrate an economic plan to bounce back from COVID-19 that is better than Trump's and will bring some stability.
"I haven't seen that kind of rhetoric coming from the Democrats right now," Dunning said.
Meanwhile, Sutton says he is more anti-Trump than pro-Biden.
"I wouldn't say that Biden has to do a terribly lot to convince me," Sutton said. "Biden isn't exactly my favourite, but there's 'not quite perfect for me' and there is 'wrong for everybody.'"
The election will decide whether America really wants four more years of Donald Trump as president, Dunning said, though he isn't sure himself.