A panel of political insiders from around California joined a live conversation about the first presidential debate Wednesday night and shared their insights with Patch readers.
President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney squared off in Colorado at the University of Denver. Journalist Jim Lehrer moderated.
Going into the debate, expectations were high and partisan lines were already drawn. Republican Kevin Hangman, chairman of the Napa County Republican Central Committee, anticipated "Obama defending his failures on the economy."
Democrat Jeff Kravitz, an attorney and former candidate for Sacramento County supervisor, said he was interested in seeing "how Romney believes cutting government spending and hence jobs of government workers could help the economy."
The panel also included Michael Barber, an independent and chief legislative aide for San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine; Gil Gonzales, Republican candidate for State Senate in the San Gabriel Valley; and Nathan Mintz, a Republican and former candidate for State Assembly in the South Bay region of Los Angeles County.
Below are some highlights from the panelists' conversation about the debate.
Gonzales: "[Donald] Trump is not a small business...don't know small businessmen/women with their own reality tv shows or jets."
Barber: "Romney is full of it to say he will help middle class taxpayers. What little we know of his plan, will increase our deficit."
Hangman: "Took Bush 8 years to run up $5 T debt. O did it in THREE!"
Barber: "After he inherited two unfunded wars...."
Barber: "If California could keep the $ we pay in federal subsidies to the federally subsidized states, we would be golden again."
Mintz: "The simple reality is that the current entitlement system is unsustainable. Go ask 20 people under 40 if they think any of it will be there when they are old enough to benefit....see how many laugh."
Barber: "Romney wants to overturn Romneycare. Keep healthcare for the wealthy...the poor can just use the emergency room."
Gonzales: "One is states rights. The other is Federal power. Voters need to decide which to elect is the best method to meet their health needs."
Mintz: "real solution is to blow up the medicare-insurance complex and go back to high deductible catastrophic care and pay your doctor direct for routine care."
Hangman: "I think all illegal aliens who graduate with math and science degrees should get visa's. If they agree to teach for two years at minimum wage!"
Mintz: "Immigration is totally broken because it isn't tied to work...it's tied to who got here first. Time for a reform."
Though divided on several issues during the debate, the Patch panelists found common ground. Everyone enjoyed Romney's reference to "trickle-down government."
They also agreed moderator Jim Lehrer was not on top of his game. And they felt Romney and Obama smirked way too much.
The panelists also united on who they thought won the debate. Barber, an independent, did not weigh in, but the rest of the panel members cast their votes for Romney.