Mock presidential debate at EMU brings some humor to the campaign

Beth Henschen (left) and Jeffery Bernstein (right) posing as presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the Eastern Michigan University Mock Debate on Wednesday, Oct. 26.

Professors Beth Henschen and Jeffery Bernstein took over the guises of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for a mock debate at Eastern Michigan University on Wednesday, Oct. 26.

The Pray Harrold building’s room 216 auditorium didn’t have enough seats for the crowd attending the event. The political science department and EMU’s Pi Sigma Alpha chapter hosted, with Dr. Edward Sidlow and Dr. David Klein performing as moderators.

Professor Henschen, who played the role of Hillary Clinton, chuckled at the question of why she participated.

“I’m always happy to do things for the students, that’s always a real joy,” Henschen said.

The event itself is one that happens every four years at the university, just in time for presidential elections. While topics in the real debates are covered, an angle of humor is attempted. The mannerisms, appearances and idiosyncrasies of the current presidential candidates were exaggerated for laughs.

An example of this was Dr. Bernstein, who walked out with a fake tan and blonde wig for the role of Donald Trump. He also poked fun at Trump’s attempts to dodge questions as well as using words like "terrible" and "disaster" repeatedly. Henschen had her share of jabs as well, wearing a one-color outfit much like Clinton’s pantsuits and frequently referring to her work with families and children.

Moderators Sidlow and Klein asked serious questions like what will be done about the hardships in Syria, while also asking more ridiculous ones like what their favorite kind of cookie might be.

“The American people don’t trust either one of you, they don’t like either one of you, they think you’re both very bad people," Klein said. "Do you understand why this is happening, and how are you prepared to lead in the face of such negativity?”

Klein isn’t so far off either. According to the Pew Research Center, “four-in-ten voters (41 percent) say it is difficult to choose between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton because neither would make a good president.”

Negativity, however, was exactly what the event was trying to avoid. While the professors did their best impressions and spoke on the issues honestly, they knew it was all in good fun.

“It’s obviously been such a negative and unhappy election season that if we can do anything to make people laugh a little, that’s not a bad thing,” Bernstein said.

EMU student Gadge Fisher found the event was a nice change of pace, but could have done more.

“I feel like they could have had more satire to open up more pressing issues surrounding the candidates,” Ficher said.

Voting for this year’s presidential election starts on Nov. 8, with the primary voting location at the EMU Honors College.


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