Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders “looked strong and confident” in Tuesday’s first national debate among Democratic presidential contenders, but the event was more interesting for the contrast it showed between the Democrats and their Republican counterparts, said UIndy’s Dr. Laura Merrifield Albright, assistant professor of Political Science.
“The Democrats discussed the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and climate change, while the Republicans have focused more on issues such as the Iran deal and the Affordable Care Act, which confirms that the parties’ bases are interested in very different topics,” said Albright, who watched the debate on campus with a group of students.
The debate gave Clinton, Sanders and Jim Webb a chance to tout their experience as U.S. senators, Albright noted, and in Clinton’s case, as secretary of state. Lincoln Chafee and Martin O’Malley were less successful on that front.
“The candidates who lacked federal experience or even high-office experience seemed to have a disadvantage and were vulnerable to their competitors’ rebuttals that they simply did not understand the intricacies of federal government,” she said. “This was a stark contrast to the frontrunners in the last Republican debate, who were successful because they emphasized their business acumen and other skills over their opponents’ political careers.”
“It will be interesting to see, after the conventions, how the candidates place themselves in this regard and how voters respond,” she added.
Albright holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Alabama, as well as master’s degrees in American politics, public administration and women’s studies. Her research interests include campaign finance and the role of gender and race in politics.
Dr. Albright is available for interviews. To schedule, contact the UIndy public information office at (317) 371-5240.