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Local Politicos Dissect First Debate

The first of three presidential debates centered on tax policy, health care and the middle class.

The presidential candidates spoke, and the Hudson Valley listened.

As President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Gov. Mitt Romney sparred Wednesday evening in the first of three head-to-head contests, residents tuned in for discussions on states' rights, health care and tax rates.

The hour-and-a-half debate began with friendly wedding anniversary palaver—Wednesday marked Obama's and the First Lady's 20th—but quickly transformed into a fierce back-and-forth on the sluggish American economy and paucity of jobs.

Both candidates chose to eschew controversy, opting not to capitalize on gaffes that have plagued their opponents in recent weeks. The debate focused instead on tax policy, small business and the Middle Class.

Patch users were able to marry the debate screening with a live blog, which highlighted a panel local politicians from both sides of the aisle.

Putnam folks weighed in on the Southeast-Brewster Patch (SBP) Facebook page moments after the event came to a close:

"Mitt Romney was confident and determined. Wasn't even close," a user named Dan Powers wrote.

Nearly all of the Facebook comments on the SBP page backed Romney, as did a status update on the 'Our Sheriff Don Smith' page. That post said there is "but one choice for a better America."

One user asserted that a particular response by the Republican candidate showed underlying racism. Another seemed on the fence about who won:

"I would say Romney if anyone did, however, Mittens said absolutley [sic] nothing about his plans that had any details ... its easy to say I would do it differently, but HOW?!" a user named Lala Luvera wrote on the SBP page.

Patch reached out to left and right-leaning folks, but several community leaders did not respond to requests for comments. The debate coincided with two local events: Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell's budget presentation and a Village of Brewster Board of Trustees meeting.

Because of the latter, Brewster Mayor Jim Schoenig was not able to catch the debate, but he did see bits and pieces.

"From what I saw, Romney looked like he was ready, and Obama did not," he told Patch, adding that he plans to watch the piece in its entirety soon.

Learn the nuts and bolts on November's local elections; read Patch's electon guide here. 

Ashley Tarr October 04, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Schoenig also addressed swing states: "When was the last time New York voted Republican? Reagan? I'm not say it's good or bad. In California it's the same thing. So your whole presidential election comes down to five or six states. That, to me, is insane." Village of Brewster Trustee Teresa Stockburger said this: "The President wasn’t presidential and did not perform well without his teleprompter, unable to think on his feet. Governor Romney looked presidential—great body language. Didn’t pay much attention to content since what they say they will do doesn’t really matter, it is what he can get through the congress."
Ashley Tarr October 04, 2012 at 07:36 PM
I asked several local politicians if they were surprised at any of the responses, which answers they thought included a misstep or a big victory, and what they thought in general about the debate in general. Here's what Jim DiBella, chair of the Putnam County Republican Committee, told Patch in response to the first inquiry: In a depressed economy it's understandable that "food stamps" become a necessity for parents to feed their children. I was stunned that the number of people utilizing the program increased from 32 million to 47 million people in less than four years. Clearly the efforts of the current administration have failed to put people back to work or food on the tables of such a significant portion of our population.
Ashley Tarr October 04, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Here's what he said about missteps/victories: According to the vast majority of political analysts' Governor Romney was the victor in the first "Presidential Debate" the Governor was on target with his responses and they were clear and concise. The President seemed to fumble when choosing his words and frequently strayed from the topic with several "feel good" answers that did not apply to the questions asked. The American voter got to see Mitt Romney under extreme pressure. Those same political analysts' were all quoted as stating this debate was a "do or die" point in his campaign. His demeanor and his direct answers to questions were more "presidential" than the incumbent president.
Ashley Tarr October 04, 2012 at 07:38 PM
And here are his more general thoughts: The value of debates to the American voter is immeasurable. Every person listening to the performance of a candidate draws something different from each response. The value in listening to each of the candidates during last night's Presidential Debate comes in two forms. The confidence in one's response and how it is delivered defines the character of the individual. The message or substance of the response gives the listener a feel for how they would handle a particular issue. Governor Romney's message about how he would improve the economy was clear, the President asked for more time to work on the same failed policies. The Governor spoke with confidence and a strong belief that his plan would work, the President did not exemplify the leadership necessary or the confidence that his present plan will work.

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