Categorized | Your Community, Politics

Second Debate Changes Few Minds


The presidential candidates got up close and personal with an audience of 80 uncommitted voters on Tuesday night during their only town-hall style debate, but the audience at the Macaroni Grill bar in El Cerrito remained unmoved.

“There he goes again, about his military career.  I’m sick of hearing about that,” said Elaine, 71, of Piedmont, who was drinking a martini at the bar. A staunch supporter of Obama, Elaine didn’t think that the debate presented any new information, although she liked the town hall format.

“I think it’s good for people to ask specific questions,” she said.

NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw moderated while Barack Obama and John McCain paced the floor, answering prepared questions from the audience.  A small crowd gathered at the bar strained to hear what Barack Obama and John McCain were saying.

“This debate isn’t going to change my mind,” said Albany resident Rebecca Sanchez, as she ate her dinner across from one of the wall-mounted televisions.  She cited her feelings about offshore drilling as reason for voting for Obama, and “his health-care plan.”

Many of the first questions focused on the economic crisis with foreign policy questions coming later.

In answering a question from an audience member about the utilitarian nature of the bailout package, McCain cited the “greed and excess” in Washington and on Wall Street.
“Main Street was paying a very heavy price, and we know that,” he said.

Obama responded by explaining how the economic crisis affected the workers of America.

“The next president has to make sure that the next Treasury secretary is thinking about how to strengthen you as a home buyer, you as a homeowner, and not simply think about bailing out banks on Wall Street,” he said.

In response to a question from an audience member about the American public’s ability to trust either candidate in light of the current economic instability, Obama discussed his energy plan, while McCain countered with accusations leveled at his opponent of big spending plans.  McCain wrapped up his comment by re-stating his position.

“I’ve been supporting [drilling offshore and nuclear power] and I know how to fix this economy, and eliminate our dependence on foreign oil, and stop sending $700 billion a year overseas,” said McCain.

Edwin, 59, of El Cerrito was skeptical of the entire debate format.  “It’s fallacious.  It’s just a show.  It’s entertainment.  Entertainment nowadays pays the freight,” he said.  Despite this, Edwin says he will be voting for Obama.

“I’m voting for him because he’s black,” he said.

Chris, a United Methodist Minister in El Cerrito, was impressed with Obama – as she had been, prior to the debate.

“I think Barack has a great deal of calmness, intelligence, articulation,” she said.
“I think he would really help us in the world.”

She thought McCain was “appalling,” and said that she found his attitude during the last debate “offensive.”

Although no one said that the debate had changed their opinion about either candidate, Matthew of El Cerrito was convinced that the candidate he supported, Obama, was out of favor with the powers that be.

“I think McCain is going to win because he’s part of a machine that’s been around a long time before he came along,” he said.

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