On CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 Monday night, the eponymous host took a moment to describe the anxiety he experienced the previous evening, serving as a moderator for the second of three presidential debates of the 2016 campaign season.
He knew the tone would be combative, and he was ready for it. But for all the surprises that emerged over the course of the debate, few were as jaw dropping as that of one unassuming Kenneth Bone.
Bone, 34, an Illinois coal plant operator, portly and mustached, interrupted the insults and contrivances to ask an earnest question on energy policy.
It was a distraction, but it was also a throwback to a simpler time. Bone — somehow — was still an undecided voter. He asked a question that affected his livelihood. He did it with aplomb and without fanfare. And social media quickly made him a hero.
Cooper’s description served as an introduction for Bone, who — still clad in his suddenly popular red Izod sweater — served briefly as a guest on the evening news program.
Bone admitted that he had been leaning toward Trump, in no small part because of his concerns at how increasing regulation could affect the industry in which he worked. But then he knew he had to look at the bigger picture, too: That voting for Trump could mean giving up many of the victories and freedoms that Americans have earned through the years, including marriage equality. He had a son, Bone said. He had to think about what kind of nation his vote would mean for the children.
He watched Trump’s debate performance, and he considered the answers the candidates gave to his and other questions. He also was aware of the especially damaging audio released over the weekend in which Trump described sexually assaulting women.
Now, Bone admitted, he was still undecided. But he felt pulled to vote for the Democrat, even if it was against his best interest in the short term.