Debate divides parties

Darin Moriki
Posted

Like-minded voters huddled in homes, businesses and community gathering spots Oct. 3 to watch the first presidential debate — each group united in support of either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.

Thirteen registered Democrats gathered around a large flatscreen TV in Thornton resident Nicole Hanlen’s living room to watch the contenders spar over subjects ranging from healthcare to the budget.

Hanlen said Romney’s statements about the country being worse than it was when Obama assumed office four years ago were neither fair nor true.

She said the road to economic recovery has been slow, but attributed some shortfalls to conditions outside Obama’s control.

”Am I happy about where we are? I’m not the happiest person, but you know what, it has been a lot worse, and we are getting better,” Hanlen said. ”I think to ask about the last four years is ridiculous. I think that statement is unimportant to me, and I don’t see any validity to it.”

About six miles away, 14 Adams County members of Juntos con Romney — the Hispanic campaign arm for Republican Romney — had a watch party at the Los Arcos Mexican Restaurant in Westminster.

Francine Bigelow, a Commerce City resident and Senate District 21 Republican candidate who was at the gathering, said Romney’s performance in the debate helped him counter Obama campaign allegations that he is out of touch.

”I think Mitt Romney is very much in touch with business and the small-businessman,” Bigelow said. ”I think his business sense is going to elevate the middle man who is in small business, and once that starts rolling, it will ultimately affect all of us.”

Supporters for each side noted the other side is on the wrong track.

Jim Joy, a Thornton resident and registered Democrat, said Romney’s proposed plan to cut the deficit by ”cutting taxes, increasing expenditures, offseting the cuts by reducing exemptions and having it all add up” would be impossible.

”I think that Romney plays fast and loose with the truth on this stuff,” Joy said. ”I don’t think he’s as solid as he should be.”

Sue Lehman, a Westminster resident and registered Republican, said she was shocked by the amount of money spent during the Obama administration’s four years in office.

”His track record does not show any ability to reduce the deficit,” Lehman said. ”He wants to foster dependency on the government instead of helping people prosper. I think the real risk is that people can become so dependent on the government that they’re unable to stand up on their own.”