WHAT an amazing experience it was to be in Denver, Colorado, at the first United States presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Republican candidate, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, which was held at Denver University last week on Wednesday. The atmosphere around the campus was electric.
Report by Faith Zaba, Recently in Denver
Throngs of sign-waving supporters of the two presidential candidates drew honks from passing cars on University Boulevard.
Fliers were handed to passers-by, some read: “No more Obama”, “A Black man can be President, tell a friend I voted” and “Mitt you are now concerned about us, the 47%”.
A circus atmosphere followed the first presidential debate.
Thousands of students gathered on the university campus four hours before the debate.
Vincent Szilaggi, chairman of the Colorado Federation of College Republicans, told NewsDay: “The President (Obama) has done a lot of things right and he has also done a lot of things wrong. We are still in a very sluggish position, my prospects of a getting a job are very slim.”
Lindsey Goodwin of the Denver University Democrats disagreed.
She said the US president had done a lot to improve the economy and had created 4,6 million jobs.
The two are among the 46 million youths eligible to vote. Young people make up 24% of the voting population in the US and their vote is just as critical as the Hispanic vote in this election.
No longer a back-burner issue, immigration is rolling the presidential race as Obama and Romney seek to court the nation’s swelling Hispanic population.
The outcome could influence political battlelines and shape US politics for generations.
According to the Census Bureau, the US’ Latino population surged from about 35 million in 2000 to 50 million in 2010.
This means one out of six Americans is Hispanic.
The stakes are high, not only for states with larger Hispanic populations such as Florida, Nevada and Colorado, but for a growing number of other battle grounds – Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia among them — where a modest shift among the Latino voters could be significant.
With the clock ticking towards the November presidential election, the race to the White House is a close call with the two candidates neck-and-neck.
As election day approaches — and with televised debates underway — each candidate continues to reach for issues he can use as a stick to beat his opponent.
Obama has led the national polls and surveys in the swing states that will decide the election.
Romney won the first of the three televised debates with Obama.
The former Massachusetts governor appeared in command, while Obama was hesitant and subdued.
After the debate centering on taxes, the deficit and healthcare, polls gave Romney a 46-67% margin with Obama trailing on 22-25%.
However, Romney’s bounce in the polls following last week’s debate is receding.
In separate interviews at an Obama rally in Denver the day after the debate, the president’s supporters said although they were disappointed by his performance, they believe his policies were pro-poor and the middle class.
Pat Clark (60) said: “I felt Romney came out a bully against Obama and I think Obama let him run with it because he was not going to get into a screaming match. There are people who are bullies and sometimes it is better not to get into a screaming match with a bully.”
Roycedric Garrett, a poor African-American, said: “I am one of the underclass people and I support Obama and I hope he gets another four-year shot. When he spoke he sounded clearer about his four-year plan. I think Romney was too aggressive and he didn’t carry himself as a president.”
Katie Harrington pointed out that: “I was a little disappointed, he (Obama) was a little flat and Mitt Romney seemed to take control of the debate.
“President Obama had his head down all the time. But his performance didn’t affect my support. I think Romney has no character and I think he will do whatever it takes to become president.”
Reports indicate that Obama immediately realised his terrible error last week and is preparing to come out of the gate swinging at Romney in the next debate. “This is on me,” Obama told advisers on a conference call, according to the New York Times.
The second presidential debate next Tuesday would take the form of a town meeting, in which citizens will ask questions on foreign and domestic issues.
The town meeting participants will be undecided voters.