Colorado Mesa students listen, with nods to both candidates
About 75 people, most of them Colorado Mesa University students, watched raptly as President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney faced off in the first of three presidential debates on Wednesday.
College Democrats hosted an open debate watch party, with pizza, in front of the big screen in the University Center game room.
Obama’s zingers — “His big, bold idea is, never mind,” as Obama described his challenger’s tax plan — drew the most applause of the evening, but the audience was far from unanimous.
“I think Romney brought up more specifics and numbers,” Eric Nimtz, a sophomore studying mechanical engineering and defensive end on the Mavs football team, said after the debate. “Overall, Romney had more facts. I’m an engineer, so I’m looking for facts.”
Nimtz and Jade Welch watched the debate as Romney supporters, just as Rebecca Ely, a social worker, and biology professor Stephen Stern watched as already-committed Obama supporters.
“I think he did a good job,” Ely said of Obama’s performance, while Stern said he was looking for Obama to signal that he would continue governing as he has.
“I think the course he has been taking has been working,” Stern said.
Senior Nicole Bradt agreed.
“Obama really defended Obamacare quite well,” said Bradt, a supporter of Obama since his first visit to Grand Junction in 2008. She supports the president’s health care law because she had been denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition, Bradt said.
What was missing from the debate, Bradt said, was discussion of issues such as abortion, reproductive rights and gun control.
That was just as well for Welch, the Romney supporter, who said the framing of women’s issues misses an important element when it comes to issues such as abortion.
On reproductive issues, it’s not just women, Welch said, “It’s you and someone else.”
The clear winner, Nimtz said, was moderator Jim Lehrer, whom Nimtz said he feared would try to tilt the debate toward the president.
Lehrer posed the questions and, much to Nimtz’ relief, “Let ‘em talk.”