Two Coweta groups gather to view Presidential debate

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A bi-partisan group focuses on the image of Jim Lehrer, moderator for Wednesday's presidential debate, at Octane Restaurant on Bullsboro Drive.

By W. WINSTON SKINNER
winston@newnan.com
People across Coweta County are talking about the first presidential debate, and some Cowetans gathered with others to watch on TV Wednesday night.
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney went head-to-head in the first presidential debate of the General Election season. The debate was held at the University of Denver with Jim Lehrer as moderator.
Debate watch gatherings were held locally at the Coweta County Democratic Party headquarters on Madison Street and at Octane Restaurant on Bullsboro Drive.
Judy Parham of Newnan attended the gathering at the Democratic Party’s storefront headquarters. “I enjoy being around my party supporters, people of like mind, people who are headed in the same direction,” she said.
Parham was frank about her support for Obama. “I don’t think I make enough money to vote for Mitt Romney,” she said.
Parham praised the President and first lady Michelle Obama, who were celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary Wednesday, for “really pushing for wellness.” Parham said she favors Obamacare and is concerned about jobs.

“Employing people in China for $2 is not going to help my family,” she said.

Parham was one of about 20 people attending the Democratic Party event. Coweta County Commissioner Al Smith was also in the group, who watched the debate – and a pre-debate analysis – on MSNBC.

The Democratic Party gathering was billed as “Rumble in the Rockies.”

The Coweta Democratic Party group was animated, often responding to comments from the candidates. When Lehrer announced there would be no shouts or outbursts, Smith quipped, “We can do it here.”

The bipartisan crowd of about 40 at Octane was quieter but equally focused.

Most of the Octane debate watchers were riveted to a large image of Georgia Public Broadcasting’s coverage displayed on a wall in the main dining section. Others saw the debate unfold on a big screen television in a screened porch area.

The debate’s audio was also broadcast outside the building.

Coweta resident Rebecca D’Spain organized the Dinner & Debate event at Octane. Octane will also be the site for other gatherings on Thursday, when the vice presidential candidates spar, and for the final two presidential debates on Oct. 16 and Oct. 22.

Each of those gatherings will be from 7-11:30 p.m. Dinner will be available dutch treat.

The second presidential debate on Oct. 16 will feature a town meeting format, and the final presidential debate on Oct. 22 will focus on foreign policy. Wednesday’s debate was centered on domestic policy – primarily the economy.

All of the debates are slated to run from 9-10:30 p.m.

D’Spain said the Dinner & Debates projects offers people of all political stripes an opportunity to view the debates in a setting “complete with tablecloths and polite conversation.”

D’Spain said supporters of both major political parties have helped organize Dinner & Debates. “This is the only bipartisan gathering we know of” in the local area, she said.

“In America, liberty isn’t just a word on a coin. We respect and protect our neighbor’s rights, even when we don’t agree with the neighbors themselves,” D’Spain reflected.

“I’ve been told it is impossible for polarized voters to ‘mind their manners’ at a bipartisan gathering, but I firmly believe in the intelligence and goodwill of Coweta’s citizens,” D’Spain said. “They’re my neighbors, and I trust them.”

D’Spain said Octane Restaurant was chosen “because it is neutral and promotes thoughtful, respectful, yet lively conversation on many topics as part of its business model.”

“It makes no sense for grown men and women to argue, that’s kid stuff. Everybody has their opinion and you can’t sit and argue about it, or you won’t get anywhere,” said P. Lineberry, a lifelong Republican.

“This election is serious business. People don’t want to hear uninformed opinions. They want real information. With the debates, open-minded voters can get the information they need straight from the horse’s mouth,” Lineberry added.

“We are a community of responsible, intelligent people who will remain a community long after this election. We all want the best America possible – where democracy remains unmolested, alive and well,” D’Spain said.



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