Despite a few sarcastic murmurings and the serving of alcohol, civility prevailed at a public presidential debate watch party in Douglas County. The …
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Despite a few sarcastic murmurings and the serving of alcohol, civility prevailed at a public presidential debate watch party in Douglas County.
The Wildlife Experience’s first foray into political debate country went off without a hitch Oct. 3. Three-quarters of the seats in the conservation museum’s Extreme Screen Theater were filled, and attendees were invited to discuss the debate — held at the University of Denver — and its talking points afterward.
Many die-hard Republicans and Democrats listened intently as moderator Jim Lehrer attempted to keep order and draw clear lines between each candidate’s stances on the issues. Some who went in with a good idea of who they are voting for nevertheless came with open ears and an open mind.
Parker resident Jose Gonzalez said he attended the debate watch party because he wanted to hear the arguments straight from the candidates’ mouths, instead of reading reports or listening to new correspondents who could potentially put their own spin on the story.
Gonzalez, who is leaning toward a vote for Republican candidate Mitt Romney, said he likes to “keep some objectivity” during election season, and said neither candidate had any missteps, nor did anyone come out on top.
“It didn’t change the decision I came in with, but I want to keep watching,” he said.
Jeff Gardner, a Parker resident who says he has already decided to vote for the re-election of Democratic President Barack Obama, said he did not have a favorable opinion of Romney prior to the debate, but conceded that the GOP nominee “presented himself and his ideas pretty well.”
The majority of national analysts and pundits agreed, saying after the debate that Romney helped his case in his bid for the Oval Office. The candidate has been trailing in polls conducted in several key swing states.
Gardner said he went in believing that Obama would be a strong presenter, but said the candidates came out equal.
“I think they both did a good job,” Gardner said. “I think it probably helped Romney more than it did Obama because he was very well prepared.”
Despite that, Gardner said he was not swayed in his intended vote.
Gonzalez, a health-care consultant, shared his reservations about each candidate, including the possible gutting of social programs that have made great strides since Obama took office in 2009. He listened intently as Romney presented his case for health-care issues to be addressed at the state level, although he believes that 90 percent of the reform enacted by Obama has made the overall system more efficient. However, he keeps in mind the 10 percent he does not like and the potential costs of massive overhauls.
The stark difference of opinions between the presidential candidates was on full display, but the audience at The Wildlife Experience remained cordial. A few laughed as the candidates took verbal jabs at one another, and still others made snarky comments audible only to those seated closest to them. But many followed the rules laid out at the beginning by Wildlife Experience employee Justin Harlan, who urged the crowd to be respectful to one another and keep their hands to themselves.
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