The Washington Post

In Ohio, mixed emotions but few changed minds

COLUMBUS — For voters in this important Ohio city, the Wednesday night debate brought consternation to fans of President Obama and reassurance to those backing Mitt Romney — but few switched votes.

“He was very well-spoken,” acknowledged Obama supporter Jenna Kaun, 31 of Romney, drinking a cup of coffee at Pistachio Vera. “But he didn't go into details.”

Kaun said she watched the debate with her husband — a rare undecided voter. By the end, she emerged still voting for Obama and he went away still undecided.

“Romney was on the offense,” she said. “But he wishes Romney had more details.”

Self-described fiscal conservative Bonita Inza skipped the full debate but watched highlights Thursday and took the temperature on Twitter.

“I saw the Big Bird comment. Jim Lehrer and how he got pushed aside. The MSNBC meltdown. All of that,” she said.

She said she was pleased the pundit consensus is that Romney won the debate, but that the outcome had changed little for her. “There’s only so much I can do. I have one vote, and I’ll cast it,” she said.

Fellow Romney supporter Rita Foley, 52, said she’d listened to the debate on the radio while driving to her daughter’s house.

“I didn't see a clear winner. They seemed pretty matched,” she said. “Then I got to my daughter’s house and she said on TV, Obama looked anxious,” Foley said. “It really surprised me. I thought he was supposed to be this great debater.”

James Reid, 34, an aircraft mechanic, said he wishes a candidate could be found to meld the best ideas of both candidates. For now, the son and grandson of Ford Motor voters from Detroit said he’ll vote for Obama.

“When Romney said ‘let Detroit go bankrupt,’ he lost my vote at that,” he said. “He’s a businessman, and that’s who he’s looking out for.” 

As an Obama supporter, the aggressive side of Romney that caused many to label him the night’s winner struck Reid as “like a used-car salesman.” But despite polls showing Obama opening a lead here, Reid said there’s a lot of time to go. “It’s not November yet,” he said.

Rosalind Helderman is a political enterprise and investigations reporter for the Washington Post.



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