Old Town response to presidential debate mixed

Posted Sept. 28, 2008, at 9:37 p.m.

OLD TOWN, Maine — Some liked Sen. Barack Obama, some preferred Sen. John McCain, and a couple just changed the channel.

Local response to Friday night’s presidential debate was mixed — although lots of people thought that neither candidate spoke clearly and directly about how he would fix the broken economy if elected in November.

“I turned them off,” Michelle Cushman of Milford said of the debates. “It seems like they’re nonstop bickering back and forth. Fixing the economy is the biggest thing. To me, it looks like the Depression is back … and neither candidate is addressing the real issues.”

Jennifer Edmond, a registered Republican from Norristown, Pa., who was in Maine visiting relatives, agreed. “I thought they circled issues,” she said. “They pointed out things that were wrong but didn’t give a concrete plan.”

At the Old Town Riverfest, local chapters of Republicans and Democrats said their bumper stickers were being snapped up like the hot doughboys for sale down the street. Both had booths staffed by fervent women volunteers — but the Democrats looked like they were busier.

Democrat Patty Kenney of Old Town said simply that “we rocked the house” in the debate.

“Obama disagreed and showed he could be civil,” she said. “McCain really needed to knock it out of the park. And he didn’t.”

Valerie Carr-Winocour of Old Town, herself a Republican candidate for state Senate, thought otherwise.

“I think McCain did well. I think he wound Obama up a little bit,” she said. “It was a testy debate.”

Some voters, such as Betty Ford of Glenburn, thought McCain came off as angry.

“He came across as a little impatient, a little mad,” she said. “But Barack Obama was just Barack Obama. He was steady and calm.”

Robert Carr of Milford thought that McCain was more direct.

“I agreed with most of what Senator McCain said … whenever I watch Obama, he takes a long time to get to the point of the question,” Carr said.

One TV viewer isn’t even old enough to vote, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t care. Hailey Wilkins, 16, of Old Town watched the debate with her folks and said she found it interesting.

“I liked a lot of things that Barack Obama said. McCain said that Barack didn’t understand a lot of things,” she said. “It kind of frustrated me — because McCain thinks he’s better than Obama.”

Hailey said she wished she could tell the candidates one thing.

“A lot of people struggle a lot more than they know with the prices of things,” the Old Town High School junior said.

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