Bay Area Reacts to Presidential Debate

A number of gatherings were held throughout the Bay Area, allowing Democratic and Republican party members to watch the debate together.

Thursday, Oct 4, 2012  |  Updated 5:25 PM PDT
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Bay Area Reacts to Presidential Debate

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The first of three presidential debates was conducted Wednesday night in Denver, and most media outlets are calling Republican candidate Mitt Romney the winner -- but Bay Area residents on both sides of the political spectrum remain confident their candidate will triumph in November.

Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, and President Barack Obama debated a number of topics under the umbrella of domestic policy, with Jim Lehrer, host of PBS NewsHour, moderating.

A number of gatherings were held throughout the Bay Area, allowing Democratic and Republican party members to watch the debate together. Despite watching the same debate, the views on the outcome varied.

San Mateo Democratic Party Chair David Burruto said he believes the president was trying to play fair and by the rules.

"The moderation was abysmal," Burruto said. "Obama had about a third of the time Romney had speaking."

However, post-debate analyses showed Obama actually had more speaking time than Romney.

San Francisco Young Republicans executive director Vivian Abellana said Obama seemed quiet because Romney left the president speechless.

"Romney was authoritative and knowledgeable on all subjects," Abellana said. "It left Obama speechless throughout the debate."

Larry Gerston, a political science professor at San Jose State University, said voters should not jump to any conclusions from Wednesday's debate.

"I think anyone who has decided that this one debate has determined the winner is completely one-sided," Gerston said.

He said Romney "probably controlled the tone of the debate," but that he expects both candidates will "fine-tune their games" for the upcoming debates.

Burruto believes that, even though most people are saying Romney controlled Wednesday's debate, the substance in Obama's answers will be analyzed over the next day or two and he will then be perceived as the winner.

"The president is a thoughtful policy maker and Romney is an energetic salesman," he said.

Burruto said Obama was "spectacular" and the pundits will see that as they "move away from the surface and style of the debate, and penetrate to the substance of the statements made."

But Abellana thinks that Obama's cerebral approach is not what the country needs.

"In our nation's current condition, we need a strong leader," Abellana said. "Romney clearly has the upper hand."

Romney may have gained support from the first debate, Gerston conceded, but he said the election is far from decided.

"Romney has to work on his likeability, keep up his game and continue to attack," Gerston said. "Obama has to step up his game, take more time to prepare and find a way to get his case against Romney out."

Vice President Joe Biden and Romney running mate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan will debate foreign and domestic policy on Oct. 11 before the presidential candidates have their second debate, a town hall meeting format on foreign and domestic policy in Hempstead, N.Y. on Oct. 16.

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