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Debate Attendees Shared Their Thoughts Afterward

Marti Mikkelson


UW-Milwaukee was buzzing on Thursday night. Hundreds of supporters came to get a glimpse of their favorite presidential candidates.

PBS hosted the debate between Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders at the Zelazo Center. We asked attendees for their impressions, following the event.

The debate lasted two hours; afterward the doors of the Zelazo Center opened and people poured out into the street, brimming with excitement. Connie Fagre traveled to Milwaukee from Madison to attend. She thinks both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders did a good job addressing issues that are on voters’ minds.

“Foreign policy and security were a big issue, as well as the gap in achievement and employment and health care that we have in this country now, and they hit on those things quite a bit,” Fagre says.

Fagre says she’s leaning toward voting for Hillary Clinton. Fagre’s husband Nathan also thinks Clinton is the better candidate.

“I think she has the experience and I think she has the greater depth of policy and understanding on the issues than Sen. Sanders,” Fagre says.

Another person I spoke with is Evan Becker. He’s studying computer engineering at UW-Milwaukee. He says he’s going to vote for Bernie Sanders.

“The biggest issue as a student myself is free schooling. Everything that Bernie Sanders is talking about is something I can really take home,” Becker says.

Becker says while he respects Hillary Clinton, there wasn’t anything she said in the debate that would make him change his mind and vote for her instead. Another person in the crowd hasn’t yet chosen a candidate. Robin Muller of Milwaukee says two big issues weigh heavily on her mind.

“I think the student loan debt issue is huge especially for younger voters and not that young of voters. I’m 47 and I have a huge student loan. And, also dealing with unemployment in our country especially for African-American families. Both of them covered it, but I’m undecided in this moment,” Muller says.

Nicholas Savage says he has decided – he’ll vote for Bernie Sanders. “I really liked his passion and he really stuck up to the issues well. I thought his remarks on trade and free labor definitely resonated with me,” Savage says.

While there seemed to be equal numbers of Sanders and Clinton supporters at the event, everybody I spoke with had one thing in common. They had never before been to a debate and called it a thrilling experience.

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.