This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A student crowd at the University of Utah settled in Wednesday night for what they lauded as the most issues-based presidential debate yet but they were in it for the spectacle, too.
Republican Donald Trump's jabs at Democrat Hillary Clinton's trustworthiness and efficiency in office drew a few claps and "ooh"s, but the big laughs at Clinton's expense came when she tried to pitch herself as defender of the people.
A few students let out an exaggerated chuckle when Clinton said Supreme Court justices' loyalty should be to the people and not wealthy corporations, and students reached for the popcorn while Clinton tried to explain her way out of telling Wall Streeters in paid speeches that she dreamed of open borders.
The audience responded to Clinton's strong speaking points, erupting into cheers when Clinton gave a side-by-side, through-the-decades comparison of what she and her opponent had been up to and when she vowed to protect undocumented workers from bosses like Trump who underpay them and keep them quiet with the threat of deportation.
At a post-debate discussion led by Hinckley Institute of Politics Director Jason Perry, a student said he thought Trump's strongest moment occurred when he argued that the United States was picking up the tab for the whole world on its military spending.
As always, Trump gave Clinton and Trump supporters alike plenty of laugh lines.
But not Adrian Ancajas, an architecture student sporting a "Make America Great Again" hat.
"I really, really take this election seriously and I take this campaign seriously," Ancajas said, so he doesn't choose to make light of Trump's speaking blunders.
Damir Verkic, a senior studying computer engineering and another Trump fan, also doesn't see Trump's inexperience on a debate stage as a bad thing.
Verkic says both candidates have been in front of a camera their whole lives, but Clinton has been trained to memorize what to say and "have those zingers" and "nice little alliterations."
Plenty of students interviewed came to the debate watch party rooting for Clinton and they left feeling validated.
"I'm still a Clinton fan," said Shaaf Rezaee, a health, society and policy major.
Some students were still undecided, and the final presidential debate had a range of effects on them.
For Libbie Dall, an elementary education major, was watching the candidates face off for the third time and said it made her even more unsure of her decision.
Political science and economics student Christian Mickelsen, on the other hand, said a more civil and policy-focused debate put him in a good position to make his choice.
"I'm still undecided, but this is a lot more professional, and I think it definitely makes it easier for me to vote for one of them."