Some of the region’s most active supporters of President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gathered in different locations to watch this year’s first presidential debate on Wednesday night.
More than two dozen Romney backers, including many volunteers, gathered at Woodside Bar and Grill, while a group of the president’s allies gathered at Obama’s Cambria County headquarters on Main Street in downtown Johnstown.
Reaction to the debate, broadcast from the University of Denver, tended to break along party lines, although some backers of the Democratic president gave the performance of his Republican opponent some positive reviews.
“I’ll be honest, I think they both did well,” said Daniel Todorich, a Stonycreek Township resident, who has made an estimated 3,000 calls on the president’s behalf.
“I think, the president, I would give him a slight edge. That might be a little bit of prejudice on my part because I support Barack Obama, but I think Mitt Romney held his own. But I also think that he is a little bit more of the underdog. He has to win this debate more than Mr. Obama. I think if the debate is even, perceived as being even, I think that favors Mr. Obama.”
After seeing the candidates meet face-to-face, Mike Anderson, a Johnstown resident, felt optimistic about Obama’s chances to win Pennsylvania’s electoral delegates.
“I’m hoping and believing that the president has a good chance in Pennsylvania,” said Anderson, who has volunteered time to help input data from surveys conducted in the region for the Obama campaign.
Support for Romney was equally strong at the Woodside.
Central City’s Robin Roberts and Upper Yoder’s Carol Pruchnic spoke glowingly about Romney.
Pruchnic, an alternate delegate at this year’s GOP convention who has made more than 8,000 calls for Romney, opposes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a piece of legislation championed by Obama.
“The Obamacare worries me for seniors,” said Pruchnic. “My husband’s a physician. If Obamacare goes through, he’s going to retire, as many are, and that’s not going to be good for the older people. The Democrats are scaring them and they’re all wrong. It’s going to be so bad for them.”
Roberts compared the candidates by saying, “Gov. Romney does not believe that you are entitled to cradle-to-grave entitlements for the purpose of strictly getting your vote. That’s what President Obama believes in. He wants you cradle-to-grave; that way he can ensure your thought process and he can lead you to the polls to ensure your vote.”
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