U.S. presidential debate: What did Alberta viewers think?

EDMONTON — Amongst American ex-pats watching the U.S. election in Canada, it seems the winner of Thursday’s final presidential debate is also the candidate they voted for.

Among the topics covered by President Donald Trump and his challenger, former vice president Joe Biden, were coronavirus, race, foreign election influence and questions of their own financial dealings, immigration, and the climate.

Its most heated moments were as the candidates argued how to handle the pandemic and race.

On COVID-19, Trump told America, “We can’t lock ourselves up in a basement like Joe does.”

Biden replied, “He says that we’re, you know, we’re learning to live with it. People are learning to die with it.”

At another point, Trump said he’s done the most for Black communities since Abraham Lincoln: “I’m the least racist person in this room.”

The former vice president shot back, “He pours fuel on every single racist fire – every single one.”

But for the most part, viewers and pundits have reported being pleasantly surprised by the amount of policy covered Thursday night.

But largely, the debate was more seen by pundits and viewers as more disciplined than when the candidates last debated in September – a credit to both the threat and occasional use of a mute button, and moderation by NBC journalist Kristen Welker.

Here’s what viewers told CTV News Edmonton:

DIANA KETO-LAMBERT

Current location: Edmonton, Alta.; Home: Gaithersburg; MD

Diana Keto-Lambert admitted to being “a little bit hungover” Friday morning after a debate watch party, but was overall pleased with Biden’s delivery.

“I’m always a little bit nervous because people are very harsh when it comes to judging him because he has a stutter and sometimes he’s a little gaffe-prone, but I thought he was pretty much on fire last night,” she told CTV News Edmonton.

“Trump was a bit more subdued than normal. I don’t know if they sat him down and really warned him about interrupting or if he was afraid of being muted or maybe even he’s still not feeling well from the virus he had,” she commented, adding it was “refreshing.”

However, she felt the mute button was underused.

“It was a good idea in theory, but there were many times where they were going over their time and just kept interrupting and (Welker) just kept on trying to speak louder over them,” Keto-Lambert said.

She has called Edmonton home since 2007, but votes in North Carolina where her parents retired.

Her own ballot was mailed in weeks ago, making Keto-Lambert one of some 50-million Americans who had voted as of mid-Friday.

She thinks she knows who will win.

“With knowing how (pollsters) changed their methodology and seeing how Biden is still in the lead, and by such a wide margin, and even if the margin of error is incorrect, he would still win. I do think Biden will pull it off,” she told CTV News Edmonton.

But if he doesn’t?

“I’m not letting somebody like Donald Trump keep me out of my country.”

MYLES MCLEAN-FOSS

Current location: Phoenix, AZ; Home: Ponoka, Alta.

Alberta ex-pat Myles McLean-Foss isn’t yet eligible to vote in a presidential U.S. election, but knows who would get his vote if he could.

“I thought that pretty much Trump won the debate pretty handily there. And I don’t think it turned out very good for Joe. I didn’t feel like he answered a lot of the questions.” 

McLean-Foss’ husband, Texas-raised Brad Foss, cast his ballot for Trump.

The pair think the incumbent president will be re-elected.

“I have never seen anything like the Trump parades,” Foss told CTV News Edmonton. “They happen all over the country. The small town I’m from in Texas, 300 cars lined up and there were round hay bales painted that said Trump.”

“Biden’s supposed to be ahead in all of the polls, but you don’t see any excitement behind that,” McLean-Foss added.

The couple agreed Thursday’s debate was less messy than September’s, but were split over the efficacy of the mute button.

Regardless, they had both known who had their support before the debate.

“(Trump has) done pretty much everything that he ran on the first time, with an exception of a few things,” McLean-Foss said.

“It’s refreshing. He’s a jerk. He’s a New York businessman that is rough and a lot of locker room talk or whatever, I guess, but at the end of the day, you don’t hire him to be your best friend. You hire him to make your life better.”

LISA HILL

Current location: Alberta; Home: Rhode Island

“After seeing the first debate and the second town hall, my expectations were low. Even before it started, Trump was berating the moderator on Twitter so I was expecting a gong show, another media spectacle as bad as the first,” Lisa Hill told CTV News Edmonton.

“I’m glad to say it was definitely more civilized.”

She felt Biden gave the stronger performance, and that Trump relied on many of the same tactics he used against Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“Trump was Trump. He never changes, albeit he was stifled by the parameters set forth by the Presidential debate committee and its new rules. He had no choice, but to behave, or be muted in front of the eyes of the world. His ego wouldn’t allow that,” she commented.

“(Biden) certainly didn’t come across as the elderly addled dementia ridden man Trump makes him out to be. He spoke to me as a citizen. He looked at me when he answered his questions.”

She said as a patriot, there was only one choice for many Americans – or another four years of catastrophe.

STEVE MCGOWAN

Current location: Edmonton, Alta.; Home: New York

Originally from upstate New York, eight-year army veteran Steve McGowan finds himself in Alberta after falling in love 15 years ago.

He’s been following the U.S. campaign closely, including Thursday’s debate.

“Honestly, I think Trump did a far better job last night.”

But his political allegiances aren’t straight cut.

“Hunter Biden’s not running for president. Hunter Biden doesn’t matter,” he said of Trump’s attack on his opponent’s son during the debate.

McGowan is a registered Republican – a fact that he says earns him a lot of scrutiny.

But, he adds: “I don’t support Donald Trump. I don’t identify with the current Republican Party. I’m kind of disenfranchised by what’s happened.”

Therefore, he voted for Biden this year. And McGowan believes he represents a large portion of voters – an issue he believes won’t be solved in this election.

“I don’t think you’ll see an end to the political divisiveness with a Biden win, just like you won’t with a Trump win.”

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Dan Grummett

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