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Saturday, May 08, 2021

‘Nasty woman’ and ‘puppet’: Clinton, Trump clash in final debate

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Hours before the final presidential debate began, Gainesville resident Kyle Young made his stance known, painting “Trump is Revolution” and “Hillary for Prison” on the graffiti-filled 34th Street Wall.

The 30-year-old, who doesn’t identify with a major party, said he will vote for Republican candidate Donald Trump come Election Day because he thinks the millionaire real-estate mogul is a better choice than Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate.

As he painted the wall over the course of several hours, he said his children — ages 6 and 2 — came to mind.

“I want America for them, because I think it’s gone,” he said.

During the debate, held in Las Vegas, Trump and Clinton spoke about their visions for the country.

They argued about Supreme Court nominations, abortion and immigration, as well as both candidates’ recent scandals, including the hacking of Clinton’s campaign manager’s emails and allegations of sexual abuse against Trump.

At The Swamp Restaurant on West University Avenue, Trump supporters watched the debate on two TVs, squeezing about 70 people on the upper balcony.

The UF College Republicans organization hosted the watch party and were joined by Turning Point USA at UF, a nonpartisan activist organization. Trump supporters boasted T-shirts, buttons, hats and stickers and handed out koozies bearing Trump’s name and his slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

Kevin Lemos, a UF computer engineering freshman, said he supports Trump because he’s an ultra-conservative who understands the importance of Supreme Court justice selections.

“There’s a lot of justices that are, like, a thousand years old, and they aren’t always going to be around,” the 19-year-old said.

As Clinton responded to the first question of the debate regarding Supreme Court picks — she favors those who are pro-choice and pro-gun-control — Lemos shook his head, his lips pursed.

“She’s literally listing point by point why I’m voting for Trump,” he said.

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At the Regal Gainesville Cinema Stadium 14, located at 3101 SW 35th Blvd., about 40 people settled into reclining chairs to watch the candidates on the big screen.

Lori Sandholdt, a 53-year-old Gainesville resident, came to the theater with her two children, excited to watch Clinton defend her vision.

Sandholdt, who voted for Clinton in the 2008 democratic primaries against now-President Barack Obama, said she’s confident Clinton would make a better president than Trump, citing the candidate’s decades of political experience and inclusive ideals. She said the unusual presidential race — one that’s more informal than most — has been entertaining thus far.

“I think it’s been very interesting to watch how the American public has approached this election and how the candidates have responded to the public’s support or lack of support,” Sandholdt said.

On the corner of Northwest Sixth Street and Northwest 23rd Avenue, a gloomier message greeted motorists on a sign stationed outside a National Vacuum store.

“Roses are red/Violets are blue/Your candidate sucks/And mine does, too,” it read.

Alligator staff photographer Grace King contributed to this report.

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