Samford Political Scientist Discusses First Presidential Debate on New WVSU Program

Published on September 28, 2016 by Philip Poole  
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by Andy Parrish

Hillary Clinton emerged as the victor in Monday’s first presidential debate, according to Samford University political science professor Fred Shepherd, because the venue is well-suited for her skills.

“She didn’t quite get a knockout punch, but I thought the debate highlighted some of her strengths,” Shepherd said, “and maybe some of the quirks of the Trump candidacy.”

Shepherd, who chairs Samford’s political science department, spoke on WVSU-FM’s Higher Ground, a weekly political discussion program featuring Samford faculty and students. He said the debate stage is a better venue for the former senator and Secretary of State than for Trump.

“There’s a sense that he’s a successful businessman, and successful entertainment and media figure, but maybe there’s not so much a sense of accountability,” Shepherd said. “I think it kind of caught him off guard that he was being pressed, partly by the moderator but especially by his opponent, on the things he said. You could see his difficulty reacting to that.”

Shepherd said his students this fall have been tuned in to the presidential campaign, and there’s an even representation of opinions.

“The conventional wisdom is about cynical, disengaged college students, and I just don’t see that,” Shepherd said. “There’s curiosity and interest, and a lot these people will be voting for the first time. It’s fascinating to look at how they perceive it.”

Shepherd’s full comments on the debate and what to look for going forward in the campaign can be heard on WVSU’s Higher Ground Wednesday at 5 p.m., and then on-demand at samford.edu/wvsu.

Andy Parrish is general manager of WVSU-FM.

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ABOUT SAMFORD UNIVERSITY -- Samford University is a premier nationally ranked private university deeply rooted in its Christian mission. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th oldest institution of higher education in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 3rd among regional universities in the South. Samford enrolls 5,509 students from 45 states, the District of Columbia and 29 other countries in its 10 academic units: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy, and public health. Samford also fields 17 NCAA Division I teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference.