One is a woman living in East Tennessee who calls herself a “Tenne-rican” because of her Puerto Rican heritage.
The other is a native of Franklin, who joked she would fall in the “suburban mom bucket.”
Nilsa Alvarez, 36, and Melissa Dick, 49, are both mothers of two, and like many Tennesseans, they’ve already cast their ballots during early voting. But they said they still found value in watching last night’s debate.
They say that amid the familiar talking points and sharp accusations, the candidates came off as polished and brought up some points the women wanted to research more. They gave their reflections to WPLN’s Emily Siner just after the debate ended.
Read the interview highlights below or listen above.
Emily Siner: What was the primary issue that was motivating you one way or the other during this election?
Nilsa Alvarez: I’m very aware of not just policy here at home, but how policy here at home affects Central, South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East. … One of the concerns I have, if Biden were to become president — I haven’t really seen a respect to the governing laws of how things work, because when he passed the nuclear Iran deal, a lot of people forget that he tried to get that passed through the House and the Senate. It failed. So what did they do? He went above American government to fund a terror-funding country. And it affected Hispanic America. It impacted our Venezuelan friends and family.
Melissa Dick: For me, this election is about character. It’s something that I feel like our leadership needs to have. You know, I have two children, and I want them to be able to look up to our president. That is what I have seen lacking in the past four years, and I really want to see a return to kindness and respect that we talk with each other and not just at each other. I’m hoping that that is something that will come with a different president.
Emily: Can you set the scene for me? What were you doing during the debate?
Melissa: I grabbed some pretzels and plopped on the bed with a notebook. … Because I wanted to be prepared and actively listen. I did actually take notes to this entire debate and actually came away with a few things I want to research based on what they said.
Nilsa: I did the same thing as Melissa. I pulled out some paper and a pen because, you know, what I love about debates is that if they bring up a subject that you haven’t really tuned into, it gives you the opportunity to pause, go research and come back.
Emily: What were the questions that you came away wanting to research?
Nilsa: I wanted to look into the things that Joe Biden mentioned regarding China. He mentions an account regarding President Trump. But then President Trump was very, very explicit about how it was a business account that he had opened and it was closed because he decided to then run for office. … And then it also raises more questions as to all the information that’s coming out regarding Joe Biden and Burisma and his son’s work with the energy company in Ukraine.
Melissa: That was the first time I had heard Joe Biden call the reformation of the ACA ‘Biden care.’ So I’m interested in diving a little more deeply into what his plan is, because my husband has had Stage 3 colon cancer and is fine now, but he has a preexisting condition. And then also, Trump kept referencing the [drug crime] bills that Biden passed in the ’80s and ’90s. It would be good to learn a little bit more about that I do think we did not look at drug use the way we do now. There’s a different way to combat it, and it’s not with punishment. But it’s with treatment. … I do like what Biden is saying now, so I’d like to look back at what he did do and then what his plan is for the future.
Emily: Overall, what were your feelings during the debate? For a lot of people, the first debate elicited a pretty strong feeling.
Melissa: I did feel like Trump had a good showing. I thought Biden spoke very well. I was shockingly pleased with the debate tonight. I mean, I won’t I won’t say that I didn’t yell at the TV a couple of times for them to just turn off the mics already, but fewer times than I would have thought.
Nilsa: Same here. I thought I thought both candidates did a good job, and I think they both delivered the message they wanted to deliver, that they really wanted to get across. And, like Melissa, there were moments where I’m looking at the TV and I’m like, ‘Seriously? Seriously?’