Bill McGoff, a retired military man and debate/speech teacher, supports Obama for president and said both candidates made a strong showing Wednesday night but that Obama made a stronger case.
“Both candidates were very articulate and expressed their viewpoints effectively,” he said. “I just think the president was more convincing and persuasive.”
McGoff said he expected Romney to come out prepared, and that he made a strong case to his core supporters and conservatives. He said Obama probably strengthened his case with supporters. Determining how the candidates came across to undecided voters — the Independents on the fence who will likely decide the election — is tough to call, McGoff said.
Lindale ISD speech/debate coach and University Interscholastic League debate regional coordinator Janice Caldwell said she was surprised with Romney. She said he scored points by pointing to Obama's inability to address the economy during the past four years.
Romney “did a really good job of pulling back on Obama's comments about his tax plan and defending it,” Mrs. Caldwell said. Romney “stuck to five main points (including energy independence, cracking down on China and helping small businesses grow the economy) and made them clear.”
Mrs. Caldwell said she was “uncomfortable” with Romney before the debate because he was “stiff” and painted as an elitist. She said Romney made headway in shedding those stigmas by appearing comfortable, intelligent and willing to talk straight.
Smith County Republican Party Chairman Ashton Oravetz said Romney “hit a home run.”
Smith County Democratic Party Chairman David Henderson said Romney continues to shift his campaign position to appeal to voters — Wednesday night it was an appeal to the middle class.
Before the GOP primary, Smith County voters and party officials clamored for an “anyone but Romney” candidate to step forward, but Romney's campaign was too well organized and funded to succumb to conservative favorites such as Rick Santorum and Rick Perry. But the top priority for East Texas Republicans has always been a one-term Obama presidency, and they have thrown their financial and volunteer support into his campaign.
Oravetz said Romney had to do well in the debate and delivered.
“I heard several people say they were supporting Romney but not enthusiastic before the debate. But after the debate they are now enthused,” he said. “I am ready for the next two debates.”
Obama excited and energized a dormant East Texas Democratic Party in 2008. Despite GOP dominance in voting totals, Karen Wilkerson, Smith County Democratic Party executive secretary, said there is determination among volunteers to make sure Obama serves another term.
Henderson said Obama should have hammered Romney with his past statements and policy promises.
“The president should have put on the heavy gloves but clearly he was the stronger, clearer, more consistent of the two,” he said.