Shortly after President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney took their respective podiums for the first presidential debate, a similar, albeit smaller, divide appeared at CB Kitchen & Bar in New City.
In one corner sat the Rockland Democrats. A group of about 50 sat at reserved tables at CB Kitchen & Bar to watch the debate. Sitting on the opposite side of the room and positioned at the end of the bar was a group of about 10 friends, all Tea Party members, who wanted to watch the debate together.
While the two sides were mostly cordial to each other, neither was quiet. When Obama hit a point or refuted a Romney comment, the Democrats clapped and hollered, and vice versa for when Romney finished up a statement or called out the president.
While CB Kitchen has no affiliation with either side, or any political group, the restaurant certainly helped out those who came to watch the debates. Of 10 TVs in the restaurant, nine were turned to the debate with the sound turned up loud throughout the entire place. One lone TV played the New York Yankees looking to capture another American League East crown.
In the end, the Yankees won. As for the debate, well, that depended on where you were sitting.
Norman Cohen sat with the Democrats, and while he said not many new ideas or plans were thrown out during the debate, he also felt like Romney wasn’t entirely truthful with his support of education and the middle class. Cohen’s wife, Joan, echoed his statements.
“It seemed like he backtracked on statements he’s made in the past,” she said.
Norman Cohen said he also didn’t think Romney’s voucher healthcare program would be a good idea.
Still, at the end, the biggest problem Joan Cohen had with Romney was honesty.
“He was just really not being honest,” she said.
Reaction to Romney was a bit more positive at the end of the bar.
“Obama got trounced,” said Lawrence Stone. “We finally saw Mitt’s teeth.”
Stone was one of the 10 or so people who came to watch together, and he was thrilled to see a more aggressive Romney. He said Romney supporters have been waiting to see the governor step up and attack.
“Obama, I felt, was on the defensive all night,” said Joe Ciardullo, of New City. “Romney did a good job of dispelling lies Obama keeps telling about Romney’s plans.”
Ciardullo thought Romney did that by actually going over his plans.
“He knew all the facts and had a handle on everything,” he said. “People keep saying he doesn’t talk about his plans, but he laid out his plans tonight. He showed he does have them.”
Ciardullo thinks Romney’s performance Wednesday night will help get his message out, because he feels most people only see Romney in “soundbites or Obama attack ads.” Additionally, Ciardullo thought Romney handled himself well with the country’s eyes on him.
“He came across as presidential,” Ciardullo said.
Still, not everyone felt Romney hit upon specifics enough.
“I think Gov. Romney fell into that trap of too much rhetoric and not enough details,” said Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski about midway through the debate. “I feel like the president is really looking forward and taking a balanced approach to get us out of this mess he stepped into.”