About 50 people showed up Wednesday night at the Lake Elsinore Sizzler on Casino Drive to watch the live broadcast of President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney pitching their strategies to the American people during the first presidential debate.
Wednesday's local event was organized and hosted by the Lake Elsinore chapter of Obama For America.
While the majority of the Obama supporters who turned out at the Sizzler felt the president won the debate on substance, several believed Romney won the popularity contest.
“He was aggressive, passionate and he appeared confident,” Nancy Dilworth said of Romney’s performance. “He was very effective.”
But she was not swayed, explaining that the Republican nominee offered little substance, few specifics and several untruths.
Anna Meyer agreed. An Obama supporter, she said Romney looked very presidential but, for those who were listening, his words lacked particulars.
By a show of hands, most who turned out for the event at Sizzler said the president won the debate because he answered the questions, explained his positions and was truthful.
Meyer said the president was perhaps “too concerned about the truth and facts,” however, and not focused enough on winning the debate, which may explain why CNN reported at press time that “a CNN/ORC International poll of 430 people who watched the debate showed 67 percent thought Romney won, compared to 25 percent for Obama.”
“He sold it well,” Meyer conceded. “Romney owned the debate.”
Despite the poll and the sentiment at the Lake Elsinore Sizzler, fact checkers say Romney stretched the truth more than the president did. A check with Tampa Bay Times PolitiFact.com reveals that complete falsehoods from Obama were zero at press time, but the same could not be said of Romney. The fact checkers zapped the GOP nominee for saying that, under the president’s healthcare plan, a “board” makes healthcare decisions for individual Americans. Not so, the fact checkers found. Romney also said five studies back his tax plan; fact checkers found no more than two independent studies.
On issues that may be of particular local interest, fact checkers found Obama’s claim that he "lowered taxes for small businesses 18 times" mostly true. Same goes for the president’s allegation that "independent studies" looking at Romney's tax plan say the only way to meet the GOP nominee's goal of not adding to the deficit is by "burdening middle class families.” Fact checkers also found true the president’s statement that Romney’s healthcare plan would turn Medicare into a “voucher program.”
But Romney was also truthful when he said half of college graduates can’t find jobs, the fact checkers found. He was also honest when he claimed Obama failed to keep his pledge of halving the deficit, the fact checkers said.
On two big issues that were repeated throughout the debate, both candidates were half truthful in their allegations. Fact checkers found Obama’s claim that Romney’s economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut was just half true, as was Romney’s allegation that the president is cutting $716 billion from Medicare for current retirees under the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare (a nickname the president said he likes).
Wednesday night's presidential debate at the University of Denver was moderated by PBS NewsHour's Jim Lehrer. Click here for the schedule of upcoming presidential and vice presidential debates.