Local and national political leaders react to Wednesday's debate
Tens of millions of Americans watched the first debate between President Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney Wednesday night.
The focus of the debate was on domestic issues, primarily the economy and healthcare. Many expected President Obama to enjoy an advantage in this first debate, being that he has experience in that setting and the general public is used to hearing him speak. As challenger to the incumbent, Romney has a difficult task in that he has to introduce himself to the American public as a whole.
Area Republicans feel Romney did a good job setting the record straight on issues like tax cuts and providing the specifics of his economic plan that challengers have been accusing him of not providing. The consensus seems to be that Romney delivered his message in a straightforward, understandable style.
"I thought his overall performance was very good, I watched him in the primary debates and he seems very engaged with the other people even when there were so many of them there - he looks at them and he listens to what they're saying," said Trudy Caviness, Chair of the Wapello County Republicans. "I think sometimes when you look away and don't look at the person speaking, it sometimes comes across a little rude."
On the other side of the aisle, Democrats believe the president successfully justified his four years in office and the policies he put in place, even if his delivery was less aggressive that his challenger's.
Thursday in Ottumwa, Representative Harold Naughton of Massachusetts, who served in the House of Representatives while Mitt Romney was governor, spoke on both the president's and Romney's talking points from Wednesday night.
Naughton told the crowd gathered at the OFA Offices in downtown Ottumwa that the biggest discrepancy on Romney's part was his claim of bi-partisanship in Massachusetts when he was governor. Naughton said Romney and his office were very closed-doors and inaccessible and Romney only supported legislation that came from the opposite party or from both sides of the aisle when it was convenient for him. Naughton said he would describe Romney's time in the governor's office in three words: dismissive, disinterested and distracted.
As for the president, Naughton told KTVO that he thinks the debate was a job well done.
"I think the president was very solid in his answers last night and understand this - the president has been busy being president for the last four years," said Representative Naughton. "He didn't have the opportunity to sit up in some mansion in Vermont with his former lieutenant governor, or his lake-side retreat in New Hampshire or some high-level retreat in Colorado prepping for last night, the president had to be president. I think the president gave a very solid performance last night and justified his four years in office and more important, justified another four years in office."
Vice President Joe Biden and Romney's running mate Paul Ryan will debate next on Thursday, October 11 in Danville, Kentucky. President Obama and Romney will next face off Tuesday, October 16.