The DC Young Republicans and the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee had a debate party at Bullfeathers Bar, so I figured that would be a good place to watch the 1st presidential debate. Got to sample some Foggy Bottom Beer!
Most of the people there were of course Bush supporters, but there was a reasonable amount of Kerry supporters also. The hilarious thing was that just as the Bush and Kerry teams negotiated the rules for the actual debate, their supporters also negotiated rules for watching the debate. Yes, seriously!
The first issue was which TV channel to watch. The Kerry supporters detest Fox News and refused to have that on. The Bush team agreed some TVs could swap, as long as it wasn’t to CNN. So MSNBC got selected. The hilarious thing is that all channels were showing basically identical coverage with no commentary, so it really didn’t matter.
Then there was the issue of noise levels. It was proposed that both sides would keep the volume of heckling down, so that both candidates can be heard, and apart from the odd time such as when Kerry went on about Vietnam (again!).
One can see the bar here.
I thought both candidates did pretty well in the debate. Kerry had some good attack points, while Bush was very dsiciplined and kept hammering away on key messages.
Actually the debate was meant to be about foreign policy, but 90% of the questions turned into arguments on Iraq. Bush got in all of Kerry’s various contradictions on the issue, and how hard it would be for him to convince allies to help out more, when he has labelled it the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time (despite voting to authorise it). Kerry did best when asserting the Iraq war had weakened the war against Al Qaeda, and had bene a distraction from it.
It was very polite. Neither called each other a liar, and when asked to comment on character issues, they both praised their opponent. Bush came across as very sincere and likeable, especially emotional when talking about families of dead soldiers because he decided to go to war.
I can’t see many voters shiofting their support as a result of the debate. However Kerry as challenger got the opportunity to look presidential, and this will probably assist him in lessening the negative views many Americians have of him.
On the more important issue, I can say that the female Young Republicans were on the whole cuter than the female Kerry supporters. This probably reflects my preferences for blonds over brunettes though!