Debate does little to shift local votes |

Debate does little to shift local votes

As President George W. Bush and his Democratic opponent, John Kerry, finally took a stage together on Thursday, the result for area residents was … well, depends who you ask.

While Bush supporters praised him for holding fast to his principles, those leaning to Kerry said the debate gave the Massachusetts senator a long-awaited chance to clarify his positions on foreign policy and the war in Iraq, which dominated the first of three debates leading up to the November election.

“I am a registered Democrat who had concerns with the effectiveness of the Kerry campaign before the debate,” said Robert Garza of Penn Valley. “Kerry’s performance removed a good deal of the uneasiness I had with him, and reaffirmed my views of Bush.”

Because of Kerry’s performance, Garza said, he now believes Kerry has a better chance at winning a close election.

Doug Jones, who owns his own painting business in Nevada County, said the debate did little to change his mind. He’s voting for Bush.

“It’s good he’s stuck to his guns,” Jones said Friday afternoon, where he was unwinding with pals at the Mine Shaft tavern in Nevada City. “He doesn’t go one way and then another. I don’t like anything about Kerry, and I don’t think he can do a better job.”

Like Jones, many said the debate didn’t shift their support or further cement their choices for president in November.

The reaction at Bunce’s in Grass Valley was equally mixed.

Grass Valley resident Angie Glafke, a native Texan who voted for Bush in 2000, said it appeared moderator Jim Lehrer tended to side with Kerry during the debate, by the way he asked questions.

“It was like, why watch this?” she said. “It didn’t make it worth watching because it was too one-sided.”

Glafke said she wanted to hear more about how the candidates would tackle domestic issues such as health care, taxes and the high cost of housing. Domestic policy and economic issues will be the topics of the third and final debate, which is scheduled for Oct. 13 in Tempe, Ariz.

John Sheridan of Grass Valley used a sports analogy to describe his feelings about Thursday’s debate.

“It was like a football game and Bush never got on the offensive attack,” he said.

Some simply wished they were watching different candidates spar for the presidency.

Alexi Bonifield of Grass Valley, a former Green Party member currently registered as a Democrat, said she’s split between Kerry and Green Party candidate David Cobb.

In spending much of Thursday discussing foreign relations, neither candidate spent time explaining how they would address Israel’s capability of producing nuclear weapons, she said.

In the end, Bonifield said she may end up voting for Cobb, “knowing that it might not carry him into any reasonable position” to win the presidency.

Harold Blickenstaff, 80, who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, said he wished Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich was still a viable candidate.

“I very definitely prefer Kerry to Bush,” he said, adding, “I wouldn’t have advocated the use of force to get rid of Saddam as (Kerry) has. I think it would have been better to go through the United Nations.”

In their next debate Friday in St. Louis, perhaps both candidates should take heed from Nevada City resident D.B. Cameron, who said Thursday’s debate seemed staged.

“I watched the debate, but the process is so awkward, artificial and confining that I didn’t learn anything about either candidate except their ‘messages,'” he said. “Really boring and completely useless.”

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