Republican candidate Mitt Romney remains popular with the majority of local voters in a county that remains predominately Republican, while President Barack Obama is also drawing some support.
When asked who they felt won the debates, local faithful in both parties answered predictably along party lines.
Cherokee County Republican Party Chair Bob Rugg said that during the debates Romney masterfully displayed a calm and rational approach to all of the issues facing America today.
“His steadfast conviction for the value of individualism as opposed to a reliance on the whims of the federal government was manifest in his every word,” Rugg said.
Rugg did take issue with the moderators.
“The debates seldom sway my personal preference but I do think they would be greatly enhanced if they were moderated by truly unbiased people. The two women moderators this year were particularly inept at hiding their political inclinations,” Rugg said.
Rugg said he and his wife, Diane, watched the debates “from the comfort of our home.”
For Democratic Chair Georgette Thaler President Obama won Monday night’s debate on style and substance.
“Obama demonstrated two of the most important leadership qualities: character and competence. He based his answers on his experience in office, inspiring confidence in his ongoing leadership. Romney came across like a frat boy on a power trip,” Thaler said.
Thaler, who said she watched the debates with friends, pointed out that while there were substantive subject differences, there remained common threads across the three debates in terms of issues.
“What differed is how each candidate wove them together to make their points,” the Democrat said. “We liked the sit-down format best because the candidates had to focus on answering the questions without strutting their stuff. We also liked the town hall format since it gave voters a better chance to evaluate the candidates’ communication skills.”
When asked how the debates could be improved, Thaler said there needed to be respect from both candidates toward the negotiated rules, the moderator and each other.
“Moderators need to uphold the rules and do their best to get candidates to answer questions,” she said.
For one of the county’s most recognizable Republicans, Joe Robert, owner of My Mechanic Joe and known locally as Joe the mechanic, there is no question in his mind who won Monday’s debate.
“There is not a question in my mind — it was Mitt Romney, and the biggest reason is that what he needed to do was look presidential, and that is what he did,” Robert said. “Obama had to prove he was in control of foreign affairs. The fact is that everything that Obama said was disputed as lies and that has been the biggest problem with his campaign, it is all lies.”
Joe the mechanic said that Obama never took the reins of the presidency during his term in office.
“I in some ways feel compassion for the man. I am a great mechanic, and if I can’t fix something I don’t like that. His becoming president is like me becoming a thoracic surgeon.”
The local Republican said that in the first debate Obama was confronted with an opponent who knew what he was talking about, and that was a first for the president.
“Every time Obama opened his mouth Romney hit him with a two by four. I ask people, here’s the deal, what is Obama’s claim to fame? His only claim is that he was a community organizer in Chicago. Romney is a successful businessman and a leader.”
Joe said he watched two of the debates at his home with family and friends from the Tea Party and the last at a bar in Jacksonville during a trip to Florida.
Joe points to his truck, which carries the message that Obama needs to be removed and replaced.
“OMG – Obama Must Go, that is what my truck says,” Robert said.
The truck which is a familiar sight around the community also carries the message that Romney and Ryan are “The Clear Path Forward.”