Patch Panelists Defend Their Candidates in Presidential Debate

California political insiders are divided on healthcare and the economy but united on who won the debate.

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.

On Taxes

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."

Federal Deficit

Hangman: "Took Bush 8 years to run up $5 T debt. O did it in THREE!"

Barber: "After he inherited two unfunded wars...."

The Economy

Barber: "If California could keep the $ we pay in federal subsidies to the federally subsidized states, we would be golden again."

Social Security

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.

GoodGriefCharlieBrown October 05, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Does Al Core really fly on a plain?
Elke Heitmeyer October 05, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Bush's mantra was "terrorism", during the debate Romney's was "jobs" no matter what the topic. he twisted his facts nicely to fit that scheme. Since in his business experience, he is good at creating jobs in China, since he planning on cutting jobs in government, healthcare, green technology - it is unclear, where those jobs are supposed to come from. Ah yes, the coal mines!
Dan Crandell October 05, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Should it be required that a voter in a national election be required to pass a test to show an understanding of the US Constitution? Why not?????
fireobama October 05, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Eike - Look at your president's $90 billion dollar spending on green jobs. Guess what? They spent hundreds of millions of dollars on solar panels. From where you asked? CHINA !!. Half a billion $ on SOLYNDRA because the owners are major donors to Obama campaign. God damn "dumbmocrats"!
fireobama October 05, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Marcus - Go out and find a job! You're probably on a WIC program. Hope and change my A$$.
SteveB October 05, 2012 at 05:46 PM
FO, where did you hear that the US spent 100s of millions on chinese panels? I found numerous references talking about a project where $200,000 was spent on chinese panels in a federal project. Including Breitbart: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/09/18/Obama-Admin-Illegally-Purchased-Chinese-Made-Solar-Panels-With-Stimulus-Funds
"Kid Gloves" October 05, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Obama had to spend his 20th wedding anniversary with a hard salesman, who would look forward to that?. Like a litigator, Obama found comfort writing notes and not feeding into a heated exchange with a master dodger. I don’t believe Obama was unprepared or under confident, this is a thinking man, a very busy man that thinks about what he says and does. It’s unbelievable how much BS way passed on by Romney at the first debate. So who paid for the “coin toss”? How much of illusion was being produced in the programming and moderating. Remember that the “facts don’t lie, liars figure” Romney’s “Your overconfidence will be your undoing” is what to watch for in the next debate as voters want the facts not a smooth presentation as his party and his supporters only care about, as they made up their minds a when Obama was elected and Congress has been a “do nothing congress” every since. Like Children that transfer from private schools to public schools, a private (un regulated) job maker/breaker/outsourcer/company-merger(crusher) won’t adjust well to a government job where 100% of the country’s people need leadership. People need, not just want to hear, need a reality leader, not an “idealist” with principles to trust on being delivered after election. Doesn’t anyone supporting Romney want to hear detailed truthful facts?
Jason M October 05, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Sure. The truth is Obama is a lier. The fact is Obama is going to leave office.
Cheryl Ortega October 05, 2012 at 06:33 PM
It doesn't matter who "won" the debate. It matters who wins the election. Romney contradicted every conservative position he took to win the primary debate in his face off with Obama. Suddenly he cares about seniors and others who need all of our support.
Marcus October 05, 2012 at 06:46 PM
@fireobama: Thanks! You're right! You guessed all along. It's amazing how you can live off the government - iPad, iPhone, fast car, paid vacations, nice home and I even get cable for free! Seriously "Go out and find a job", is laughable!!
Marcus October 05, 2012 at 06:48 PM
What is an understanding of the US constitution though? The basics?? And WHY do you want that? Isn't it enough that someone ACTUALLY goes to the polling booth?
Marcus October 05, 2012 at 06:49 PM
.... after his second term!
I. M. Unimpressed October 05, 2012 at 06:53 PM
What BUSINESS did MITT run, he invested in them, bought them & either sold & carved them up or outsourced or made a profit from the business, was he the CO of Staples, Home Depot? No for example Bain invested like $50k in Staples @ the start & Mitt is claiming like he built the 1st paperclip.....BOTh did NOT answer Q's Mitt just attacked & Obaa looked sheepish @ times. Don't trust either one
Marcus October 05, 2012 at 06:59 PM
@The MOG: "Middle class never get the bill" - I beg to differ. The middle class and the poor are really the losers when government is let loose and is not controlled by the citizens. The President is just one branch of the government obviously, but he sets the tone, the approach, the vision, that the country be going in. That's why the US is trying to pick itself up after this huge depression/recession caused by two terms of Republican President Bush. His ineptitude allowed us to be attacked, allowed financial markets to fall into ruin, and why he raised the deficit by putting two fake wars, medicaid expansion on the Fed's credit card. All in all Obama inherited an uphill struggle with an economy on the verge of collapse. I think any President would have faced the same odds, and so its no surprise we have such a slow recovery. Bush did a good thing though. He got the first Stimulus passed and that started the turn. Pity it had to happen after we started seeing banks and insurance companies failing losing millions and throwing millions of people on to the streets. So I would say the middle class and poor pay for it in the end. Only the rich have escaped the downturn. Look at the stock market. It's at its HIGHEST its been. Btw I agree with your assessment on the debates. Both candidates didn't come with their 'A' game - and Lehrer was just lost. We'd have been better served if Howard Stern had been moderating.
I. M. Unimpressed October 05, 2012 at 06:59 PM
If your trust Romney & Ryan to FIX MediCare & Social Security perhaps we should also hire Bill Clinton to interview their potential interns........& Donald Trump to be their hair consultant.....
I. M. Unimpressed October 05, 2012 at 07:02 PM
A 'lier' is that some hidden GOP code term? We all know Mitt would never LIE or flip flop, he has gone from the Right of Attila the Hun [Ryan} to middle of the road/left "I want to save MediCare I want to put $700B into it, right after I cut my tax to well under the 13% I have paid for many years, if not less, he is afraid to show how LITTLE he pays as a % of income, that's the way it works.....bait n switch....ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz
bbkong October 05, 2012 at 07:05 PM
@Jason I don't know how you arrive at this "fact" when Romney clearly has no route to 270 electoral votes. It appears that you are confusing wishful thinking with facts. Oh, and "liar", not "lier". You're welcome.
Marcus October 05, 2012 at 07:08 PM
@Cheryl - Who won or lost is irrelevant, but what is more important is what each candidate is prepared to say to woo the voters. Apparently Romney is for Regulation now. Ask a Republican or libertarian, and I'm sure they'd be against regulation. "Remove it all!" they say. So do they agree with Romney that Regulations are okay now? I just saw it as Romney saying anything to appeal to the voters.
Jason M October 05, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Thankyou Mr.Kong! Not to worried about that.
Jay Lopez October 06, 2012 at 02:34 AM
It seems like Obama is letting Biden write his teleprompted speeches now, today in Virginia he said "We don't believe anybody is entitled to success in this country." and he went on to say "That is what were going to put in place in the next four years if you reelect me." I think he wants to make the rich poor and the poor even poorer. What a great job he's doing.
Dan Crandell October 06, 2012 at 05:40 AM
@Marcus .... So your answer is no?
Ronald van Ammers October 07, 2012 at 05:56 AM
A person shoulnt be required to know anything beyond how to check a box for his favorite candidate. That's democracy.
Ronald van Ammers October 07, 2012 at 06:01 AM
>"We don't believe anybody is entitled to success in this country." That's rich. Anybody says that gets my vote for standup comic.
Margeaux Rox October 09, 2012 at 07:55 PM
@Jay and Ronald: Amen brothers! He wants to turn us into a sh*thole like Indonesia.
Jay Lopez October 09, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Now Obama is letting "Big Bird" do his bidding for him. I actually think Joe Biden is going to come out at the VP debate as Big Bird in a Holloween costume. Trick or Treat!!!
Margeaux Rox October 09, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Big Bird belongs to the 1%. I wonder how much he pays in taxes.
Jay Lopez October 09, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Seseme Street asked Obama to stop using Big Bird in his commercials...he must be a one percenter.
Dan Crandell October 10, 2012 at 05:29 AM
@Ronald ... Another no. OK
Holly Hale October 10, 2012 at 06:14 AM
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/09/libya-consulate-attack-protests_n_1953057.html Big Bird's tax dollars won't matter after this..........
The MOG October 10, 2012 at 06:30 AM
Obama's people better lay off the Big Bird angle. It only reminds voters of the debates & his miserable performance. With gas prices through the roof, now, & the entire Muslim World a unified anti-American clamour, it sounds silly for The Leader Of The Freeworld to drone on about Big Bird. People aren't particularly concerned with Big Bird at the moment. They're concerned about jobs. They're concerned about the over reach of the federal government, the confiscatory powers of government, & they're concern about Economic Freedom, & the Value of our Currency. They're concerned about their pocket books. They aren't fixated with poll numbers, or figures coming out of the Goverment Accounting Office. They're worried about the prices they see at the super market, their stagnant wages, & the inflationary monetary policies of The Fed. You can go ahead and argue it's not Obama's fault, but it's his responcibility. All this woulda coulda shoulda doesn't cut it. romney won because sound economic sense appeals to anyone, regardless of party, belief, or creed. It's simple. Government shouldn't spend more than it takes in, it's immoral for one generation to saddle another with crushing debt, Americans shouldn't be taxed to fund failing Government Programs, & people should be allowed to keep more of their take home pay. Revenue is generated though increased investment from the private sector, not public sector spending. We become Energy Independent, & maintain a position of strengh abroad.


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