Local Republicans enjoy Palin’s debate performance

Kiera Manion-Fischer

About 30 people gathered at the Stark County Republican headquarters last night for a vice-presidential debate-watching party. Volunteers and John McCain supporters, young and old watched Gov. Sarah Palin face off against Sen. Joe Biden.

The two candidates covered the financial crisis and foreign policy matters, similar to last week’s presidential debate.

The broadcast, shown on a projection screen from an online streaming video, kept skipping, and there was a noticeable time delay because of the Internet connection.

The audience was silent at first, waiting for the delays to stop. Someone commented that Biden was probably making a gaffe.

Lynne Burrier, 66, of Louisville, along with several other supporters of John McCain, said he liked the idea that Palin is not a “Washington insider” like Sen. Barack Obama or Biden.

Burrier described himself as a registered Democrat, but supported McCain this time because “he’s a better man” with more experience and integrity, he said.

Any mention of “straight talk” drew cheers from the crowd.

When she thought Biden shifted his position, Erika Robaugh, 24, waved a pair of blue flip flops with a white flower pattern in the air.

“Flip-flopper,” she yelled.

Robaugh, a master’s student in applied politics at the University of Akron, interns for the campaign headquarters, training volunteers. She won a T-shirt labeled “Sisters for Sarah” in a raffle at the beginning of the event.

Robaugh’s favorite moment during the debate was a quip from Palin in response to Biden’s criticism of McCain for siding with the Bush administration on taxes, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Say it ain’t so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again.” Palin said.

Robaugh’s biggest issue in this election is support for the war because her boyfriend will be deploying for the first time. They both come from military backgrounds.

Andrew Reed, a freshman at Kent State Stark and volunteer, said he thought Palin “definitely blew Biden away.” Reed had some misgivings going in to the debate, because he was afraid Palin might perform poorly after looking unprepared in an interview with CBS’s Katie Couric. Currently unemployed, Reed cares most about the state of jobs and the economy.

Lisa Bast, another volunteer, said she thought both candidates did well in the debate, but that Palin came off better.

“Sarah Palin is a strong, competent and very intelligent woman,” she said. “What I liked about her: she was straight-talking and positive. Biden looked angry.”

She thought Palin’s positive attitude was necessary during the troubling economic times.

“You’ve got to start seeing that light through the clouds,” she said. “You’ve got to know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Contact public affairs reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected].