For young people who grew up in an era when girls play on soccer teams with boys, the possible emergence of Carly Fiona as a leading Republican presidential candidate is no big deal. Donald Trump is.
“For our generation, we really don’t care if it’s a woman or a man leading the nation,” said Francis C. Pray, III, a junior at the University of North Carolina and the chairman of the UNC College Republicans. “They’re both capable of doing an excellent job.”
Pray said Fiorina’s comments during the debate resonated with him.
“Her answer to the question on Planned Parenthood and abortion was one of the best political answers I’ve heard in my life,” Pray said. “Her closing response moved me in a way that a politician hasn’t done since I’ve listened to Reagan’s speeches online.”
Behind Fiorina, Pray said Marco Rubio stood out for his positions on illegal immigration, and Jeb Bush handled himself well with Trump’s comments about his wife, but that he wished to hear more from Rand Paul.
Young voters generally are viewed through the prism of whether they will benefit Democratic candidates. But the Republican debate found its audience among young people as well – not always favorably.
Trump made the debate hard to watch for Emily Field, a registered Democrat in her junior year studying political science and communications at Tulane University.
“I had a really difficult time taking it seriously,” she said. “It’s a reality show.”
Field said that although she respects Carly Fiorina as being a woman candidate, and for her answer to Trump’s comment about her appearance, she doesn’t agree with her politics and hopes to hear more about policies affecting women.
“There is a lack of understanding on women’s issues to a fundamental level in terms of reproductive rights and the wage gap,” she said. “They seem to be glazing over a lot of really important women’s issues.”
With Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson and Donald Trump all running on the idea of being Washington “outsiders,” polls show the public is interested in considering candidates who aren’t career politicians.
Fields worries about that lack of experience.
“I don’t think people who have zero political experience belong in a campaign,” she said. “That is a great platform to run on, but when it comes down to serious political issues, if you have no experience and you haven’t held office, it doesn’t make sense to be running.”
For young people, Trump is on everyone’s minds because he is on everyone’s TVs, said Jordan Margolin, a sophomore at Tulane studying finance and international development. The debate was too focused on Trump, he said.
“It was the Donald trump show as it always is,” said Margolin, who leans Democratic. “It was less about the candidates and their views on issues, and more about how their views were different than Donald Trump’s.”
With Trump leading the field with the support of 27 percent of republican primary voters, according to a CBS and New York Times poll released September 15, he is still not a legitimate candidate, said Renee Reneau, a senior communication studies and political science student at the University of Miami.
Mexican students at the University of Miami have been offended by his positions on immigration, Reneau, a registered Independent who leans Republican, said, but among her friends, Trump is greeted often with indifference.
“Overall, I don’t think millennials are really supportive of Trump,” she said.
Reneau, a registered Independent who leans Republican, said she doesn’t think she would vote for Fiorina either, because of her controversial track record as CEO of Hewlett Packard.
Margolin said he’d like to see the Republicans address the cost of college and student loans more. Those are the major issues he considers before voting.
“Bernie Sanders brings it up all the time,” he said. “Education is something that is one of those underlying social issues that has a lot of effects on different sectors.”