While those who watched Wednesday night’s presidential debate continue to deliberate who left Denver victorious and how it will affect November’s vote, local party leaders are standing by their candidates.
President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney squared off in the first of three debates over taxes, deficits and strong steps needed to create jobs in a sputtering national economy.
But while the debate still resonates on a national level, local Republicans claim a Romney victory in the debate, while Democrats argue that the challenger’s points were factually inaccurate.
“Clearly Mitt Romney won the evening, as the national news has shown,” said Kris Yardley, chairman of the Hall County Republican Party. “He was prepared, he laid out his plan clearly, he communicated well to the people, he obviously confused Barack and left him feeling like he was unprepared, and, as one of the news stories I’ve read (said), his attempt to wing it on personality was not a good strategy coming in against a better-prepared person who had a plan and clearly the better choice for American going forward.”
Local Democratic leaders, however, claim that, while Obama could have been more aggressive, some of Romney’s statements were not rooted in fact.
“I wish the president had been more aggressive,” said Jim Taflinger, Hall County Democratic Committee chairman. “I think he was reserved, I think he was very presidential, but I think there were remarks made by Gov. Romney that should have definitely been challenged, especially factually challenged. But sometimes that’s not President Obama’s style.”
But, Taflinger said, to claim a Romney victory immediately after the debate is pre-emptive.
“I don’t know how you score those types of things,” he said. “I think we have to see in the next few days, I mean, they do these flash polls and those types of things, but let’s see what it is 48 hours from now. There was a lot of nonfactual information that was given (Wednesday) night.”
Both presidential candidates made frequent references to the weak economy and high national unemployment, by far the dominant issue in the race for the White House.
“The status quo is not going to cut it,” Romney said Wednesday.
Obama countered, saying Romney is seeking to “double down” on economic policies that, he said, eventually led to the national downturn four years ago.
Obama also questioned Romney’s evasiveness on proposal details, including tax changes, health care, Wall Street regulation and more.
“That’s pretty essential for people to know,” said Taflinger. “I think people need to know what tax deductions are going to be done and I wish President Obama had said: ‘OK, well map out the deductions needed. What is your (Romney’s) exact plan?’ I think, especially people in Hall County, work very, very hard ... and they need to know if their home deductions are going to go away or if their state income tax deductions are going to go away, and the evasiveness, it just doesn’t fly.”
But Romney’s supporters said the Obama camp is twisting numbers in its favor, including unemployment figures, which, Romney said, are around 23 million nationally.
“The ‘facts’ that (Obama’s) supposedly talking about (Romney’s) tax plan, that’s not true,” said Yardley. “Barack and his campaign are trying to make material appear that’s just not there. The assertion that it’s real doesn’t make it real. ... It’s sad that they’re trying to do that.”
And moving forward, both party representatives said their candidate will prove why he should get the nation’s vote in November.
Taflinger said Obama needs to push for a factual comparison of his and Romney’s policies in the next two debates.
“I think he needs to take the gloves off and really lay it out there and be aggressive,” he said. “We need to have the facts laid out and there needs to be an absolute comparison. I think if people saw the details there would be quite a few minds changed and it wouldn’t from the Democrats’ changing minds, it would be the Republicans’ changing minds.”
And Yardley said over the next two debates, Romney will continue to show why he has, and should have, the upper hand in this year’s election.
“Whether it’s on foreign policy or domestic policy, I think (Romney will) be able to show that there is a clear difference between him and the current president and his plan is better for America than what we currently have or what we would have going forward with Barack,” said Yardley.
Obama and Romney will meet twice more this month, and their running mates once.
The next presidential debate will be on Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.
It will be a town meeting format including foreign and domestic policy.
Candy Crowley, CNN anchor and chief political correspondent, will be the moderator.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.