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Presidential debates bring out local Democratic and Republican supporters

The responses of local Republican voters to last night's Presidential debate echo what many pundits are saying nationally - that Presidential candidate Mitt Romney came out stronger than expected. Meanwhile, Democratic supporters of President Barack Obama say the President held his ground.

Approximately 100 supporters for Romney gathered last night at the  Boone County GOP office to watch the first of a series of debates between Romney and President Obama.

Several supporters seemed to agree with the observation of national pundits, saying they were surprised at how strong Mr. Romney's presentation was.

John Soper, a student at the University of Missouri and a member of the College Republicans, was at the watch party with his friends, cheering on Romney. Soper says he was surprised to see a different side of Romney on stage last night. He says that side is what undecided voters need to see.

“It was the side of very well spoken, it was the side of very confident, it was the side that people need to see, it was the side that Obama was afraid of seeing,” he said.

According to a poll conducted by CBS News, 46 percent of the uncommitted picked Republican Romney as the winner of the debate, with only 22 percent of that group moving towards the President.

William Samuels, an attorney from Columbia, says Romney’s strong showing against Obama in the first debate could bring an election win: "I think he has a good chance to win the election as the Obama campaign has pretty much written off Missouri, which is a swing state," he said. "They almost won it last time and if they don't make serious effort to win the state of Missouri, it shows they're very much on the defensive, and that they knows they have a hard race to win.”

Meanwhile, Democrats gathered at the restaurant El Jimador, in Columbia, last night to cheer on the President.

Throughout the debate, as each candidate offered his views on an issue, members of Boone County’s Democratic Party took down notes comparing the two on delivery, one-liners, fact-checking and other criteria.

Janet Thompson, who is the Democratic candidate for Boone County’s Northern District Commissioner, says Obama gave a strong performance: “I think President Obama really nailed it and showed the difference between himself and Governor Romney’s positions, especially on the health care issue, and on social security and Medicare as well.”

One attendee, Carleen Mulloy, thought Romney’s fact-checking just wasn’t right: “Romney was just very irritating to me," she said. "He went back to the trickle-down theory, the old Reagan thing that never worked, they still used it.”

Renee Kientz, a volunteer for Senator Claire McCaskill’s election campaign, thought both candidates did well, but thought Romney said nothing new: “They both did well on the debate," she said. "I thought that Romney stuck to just a lot of his talking points that we’ve heard over and over again from the Republican campaign.”

The two candidates face off twice more before the November 6th election, with the next debate scheduled for October 16th.

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