Athens Political Supporters React To First Presidential Debate

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Athens County voters are already looking forward to the next presidential debate.

Wednesday night's debate between President Barack Obama and Republican opponent Mitt Romney was greeted with mixed reviews by Athens area viewers.

Ohio Bobcats for Obama held a watch party at the Pigskin Bar in Athens.

Shannon Brown, the group's president, says it is good for the community to gather and watch the debate.

"His campaign is a lot about being at the grassroots community level so I think this really shows that we're gathering together as a community in support of the president and that's what we will continue to do everyday until he wins," says Brown.

Local Democrats and Republicans are each saying the debate ended in their party's favor.

Ohio House Representative Debbie Phillips (D-Athens) says Obama used the debate to elaborate on his message to voters.

"What we saw from President Obama is an effort to continue the conversation about how we build economy from the middle out, how we work together to build an economy that is built to last and that strengthens the middle class in america," says Phillips.

Phillips says Romney only made a good appearance because he has spent a lot of time practicing.

"Anytime a presidential challenger is able to share the stage with the president, the challenger gains some stature and is frequently able to get a little bit of a bounce out of that which is something that Mitt Romney's been banking on, that's why he's been practicing and preparing for the debate since July," says Phillips.

But Athens County GOP Chairman Pete Couladis says the head-to-head match up worked in Romney's favor.

"Obama has outspent him on negative attacks and all of a sudden you have a chance to hear him in person without any distractions and people said he came across pretty well," says Couladis.

Couladis says the debate only changes the minds of voters who are independent or disinterested.

"The only people that are going to be changed now are the independents and the disinterested voters that haven't been paying attention all along and now for the first time they're starting to pay attention and they'll make a decision here which they usually do in the last view weeks," says Couladis.

Couladis says that he hopes the next debate will show the candidates sharpening their arguments and making it is clear where they each stand.

The next presidential candidate debate is set for October 16 in New York.