Debate highlights and lowlights through local eyes
They came, they watched and they hoped their guy would conquer.
Lowcountry partisans joined millions of others across the nation Wednesday night to see President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney meet in their first televised debate.
Here are some observations gleaned from the approximately 110 gathered at a Republican watch party at Cinebarre in Mount Pleasant and from almost three dozen Democrats gathered in Summerville.
A few shouted out, a few trickled out and the bulk sat still and tried to sort it all out.
Among Democrats: When Obama sensed Romney was altering his tax change proposal and said, “His big bold idea (on taxes) is 'never mind.' ”
Among Republicans: When Romney bashed Obama for backing bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra and other failed green energy companies, “A friend said you (Obama) don't just pick winners and losers, you just pick the losers.”
Among Democrats: When Romney talked about how he would cut funding to PBS, then he added, “I like PBS. I like Big Bird. I even like you too (to PBS Newshour anchor and debate moderator Jim Lehrer).”
Among Republicans: Tie, among the several times Obama went long with his answers and Lehrer did not interrupt him. “What is this, a Democratic presidential commercial?” one onlooker asked. CNN's time total showed Obama spoke for almost 43 minutes; Romney, for 38 minutes, 32 seconds.
Among Democrats: When Obama talked about Medicare.
Among Republicans: When Romney talked about the federal government's role in education.
The most squirming
Among Democrats: Came when Romney laid into Obama over not doing anything to cut the deficit in four years.
Among Republicans: Came when Romney detailed his position on Dodd-Frank (Wall Street reform) to clarify that he supported some of it, such as its new push for transparency, and opposed how it made five banks too big to fail.
A few big laughs
Among Democrats: When moderator Jim Lehrer remarked early that the audience would remain silent.
When Romney said tax cuts are not just for business but for individuals.
When Romney mentioned “clean coal.”
And when Romney said, as he talked about how his entitlement reform wouldn't affect those retired or near retirement, “If you're 60 or older, you don't have to listen any longer.”
Among Republicans: When Romney told Obama, whose wedding anniversary was the day of the debate, “I'm sure this is the most romantic place you could imagine — here with me”
When Romney said while Obama, as president, “You are entitled to your own airplane, your own house, but not your own facts,”
And when Obama told Lehrer, “Jim, you may want to move on to another topic.”
The eyes have it
Republican onlookers chuckled as Obama looked down about 12 minutes in, as Romney said, “Middle-income families are getting crushed.”
Democratic onlookers noted that Romney was blinking a lot during his closing remarks.
U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., made headlines three years ago during Obama's first term by shouting “You lie!” as Obama addressed a joint session of Congress to talk about health care reform.
As Obama talked Wednesday about how a new federal board, created by the health care reform act that eventually passed, cannot make decisions about what treatments are given, some Lowcountry Republicans were more than skeptical.
“Where's Joe Wilson when we need him?” one shouted out.