Debate reigns in Cleveland

Christopher Petro, of Kalamazoo, Mich., stands in front of a cluster of Clinton and Obama posters outside the Wolstein Center in Cleveland. SAM TWAREK | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

CLEVELAND – On the corner of East 21st Street and Euclid Avenue, a small cluster of Hillary Clinton supporters braved bitter temperatures outside of Rascal House Pizza to raise their voices and banners for the Democratic contender.

Daniella Robinson was one of the supporters. Robinson, 22, had firm reasons to lend her support to the Clinton campaign.

“My top two reasons are health care plans and outsourcing jobs,” said Robinson, referring to Clinton’s issue platform.

“My father lost his job at LTV Steel. Both of my parents are disabled. So that’s a great reason for me to support her.”

Inside the pizza place, the atmosphere was energetic. While many patrons scrambled to place orders, find their seats and gobble down their food before the debate, a few customers sought refuge in the less frenetic back bar area.

Rocky Torres slowly sipped his beer and watched the crowd. Torres, 26, is also a Clinton supporter.

“She has more experience. Her plans are more defined and laid out. Barack’s plans are a lot of ideas and not too solid,” he said.

Two tables down, two supporters sat at a table hocking Barack Obama campaign buttons and discussing the candidates.

“I’m torn, man,” Robyn Gibson lamented to her counterpart and avid Obama supporter, Matt Bittman.

“Just wait until you hear Obama speak,” Bittman said.

“I’m trying to find out who’s gonna benefit my interests and the issues that are important to me,” Gibson said.

Bittman, a student at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, is originally from Connecticut. Gibson, an Ohio State alumna, drove up from Columbus for the debate. They’ve been helping out both campaigns by selling buttons of Clinton and Obama.

“The Obama buttons are $3 apiece,” Bittman said. He confirmed that despite the price tag, the buttons were selling.

“We went through 250 Hillary ones this morning in Lorain.”

Gibson and Bittman weren’t the only ones who took to the slushy roads to join the campaigning.

Owen Agho, a 20-year-old University of Michigan student, chose to spend his spring break in the icy throes of Cleveland to support his candidate of choice.

“I believe he is going to bring a necessary change,” Agho said. “We’re ready for a fresh new face to represent our country.”

Four blocks away, in a ballroom at Cleveland State University’s Fenn Tower, nearly 250 students and faculty gathered to watch the debate and enjoy popcorn, hot dogs and lemonade.

It wasn’t an all-Democratic affair, however.

Alex Pesh, a junior at Cleveland State, has been a lifelong Republican.

“I’m looking at some of their issues to make sure I’m well informed,” Pesh said.

Not everyone was as neutral. Tara Chandler, a law student at CSU, wants to see Hillary get the nod.

“I think we need a strong woman to lead our country,” Chandler said. “I think she’s more experienced (than Obama) and she can get things done.”

Contact public affairs reporter D.J. Petty at [email protected].

Contact public affairs reporter Channing Hindel at [email protected].