Facebook fans have their say in final match
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Published: 23-Oct-2012
EDITOR’s NOTE: CapitolBeatOK was part of a team of state capitol-based online news bureaus that hosted Facebook “Debate Watch Parties” Monday night. This report distills the views expressed by participants. To see screen shots of some of the livelier exchanges, go here: 


It was the last one-on-one, face-to-face debate for Democrat President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Monday from Boca Raton, Fla., and it proved to be a feast for the pundits and political prognosticators.

But what about the voters? What did they have to say about the third and final presidential debate of the 2012 campaign?

Our news bureaus across the country opened their Facebook pages Wednesday night to find out.

Who won? What was the most important question? What about Iran? Hundreds of people from around the nation had their chance to have their opinion heard. Here’s what they had to say.

COLORADO

Voters attending the Facebook party at Colorado Watchdog had a lively debate of their own on substance vs. style when it came down to the final showdown between Obama and Romney Monday night.

Two-thirds of the people at the party thought Romney won; one-third said Obama.

To a question posted by Colorado Watchdog as to who was the winner, Josh Westerlund stated: “Not ‘We the People,’ that’s pretty clear.” 

Added Cindy deMik Arndt: “obama speaks to gov romney in a condescending way – that’s rude and unpresidential. he’s immature and unqualified, just as he was 4 yrs ago.”

Some didn’t appreciate Obama’s sense of humor during the debate. He made several comments including one about the military no longer needing horses and bayonets when Romney criticized cuts to our armed forces.

“I’d rather see him be presidential than a comedian… we have lots of comedians, we need leader! Who wants to be the laughing stock of the world because our leader is a comedian??… he’s really NOT funny!” stated Paula Brown.

But the best quote of the night? It had to be Darryl Timmerman who commented toward the end when the topic was China: “Obama looks like he needs a restroom break???? ”

Tori Richards

ILLINOIS

When it comes to America’s role in foreign matters, Illinois voters have a lot of opinions.

The question, “What is America’s role in the world?” was posed to U.S. President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, during Monday night’s debate – the third and final debate between the two main presidential candidates before the Nov. 6 election.

Illinois Watchdog followers on Facebook weighed in.

“America has the responsibility to defend freedom and liberty around the world,” said Hettie Crocker.

But Guisef Volium of Chicago said America is too entangled in other countries’ business.

“When we were on top of the world we were actually doing some good. Now we can’t even straighten out our own economy or keep our wealthy in line,” he wrote. “I’d have to say that today we’re doing more harm than good overseas. We’re still being haunted by the ghosts of Nixon, Reagan and Bush Sr. (and) Jr.”

Donald Hennig of central Illinois said America’s role in the world used to be “the shining light of capitalism and freedom.”

But “America’s role in the world today is demonstrating that with a big enough army you can force anybody to do what you want,” he wrote.

Jayette Bolinski

IOWA

The winner of the third and final presidential debate goes to?

President Barack Obama if you are referring to who got the most votes for best tie, according to an unscientific Iowa Watchdog poll on Facebook. Thirty-three viewers who participated in the poll favored Obama’s blue tie to Romney’s red stripped tie. Three others didn’t take notice, while one cast a ballot for Ron Paul, who didn’t participate in Monday’s 90-minute back-and-forth.

When it came to the results of the actual debate?

Iowa Watchdog polling participants gave Romney the edge, with 1,002 saying he won. That compares to the 843 who voted for Obama. Another 34 people declared no winner, while 11 others called it a draw.

Iowans favorite zingers included Obama’s reference to horses and bayonets in response to Romney’s charge that the U.S. Navy had fewer ships today than in World War I and, “You skipped Israel.” Romney was touted for his comments regarding Russian leader Vladimir Putin

And are we better off now than when Obama took office nearly four years ago? Reactions were mixed. Multiple commenters regarded both Obama and Romney as having no clue. A number of people said the country faces greater dangers from its enemies, while others challenged them to provide the facts behind their claims. 

“Hey clueless haters of Obama… where were you when Bush claimed that Iraq had (Weapons of Mass Destruction)? If Bush hadn’t completely destabilized the entire Middle East, and committed so many lives and Chinese dollars to an unpaid reckless war, this Nation would be a lot stronger! And we do have more respect from foreign governments,” one commenter wrote.

Sheena Dooley

KANSAS

Across the airwaves and the Internet, Kansans tuned-in to the final presidential debate to watch President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney exchange verbal blows for the last time before the Nov. 6 election. But for Kansas Watchdog readers, what mattered most wasn’t what was said on stage, but rather who wasn’t allowed.

Responding to questions posted on Kansas Watchdog’s Facebook page during the debate, readers showed strong support for including third-party candidates in Presidential Debates, and argued that restricting it to only two parties limited the exchange of ideas between candidates and voters.

“My feelings is if they did, more people would go with the third party, and scares [sic] the heck out of the other two parties,” said Marcia Abernathy Lee.

Debate moderator and CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer was also roundly criticized by Kansas Watchdog readers, who argued that the seasoned television journalist continued a liberal slant many felt has pervaded the debate moderator selection process.

In the end, though, many readers were skeptical as to whether a strong debate performance translated into a strong presidency. Doug Roudybush said neither candidate did a good job of differentiating themselves, while Jane Henry said neither Obama nor Romney were strong performers in the debate Monday night.

“(It) sure isn’t like any debate I had when in school if I’d have debated this way I would have flunked,” Henry said.

Travis Perry

MISSOURI

Missourians think Harry would have given ‘em hell.

Missouri Watchdog asked Facebook users if any American president could realistically stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions at our virtual debate party during the oratorical clash between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney Monday night.

Harry Truman, the 33rd president and a native of Independence in northwest Missouri, was named by several respondents.

But getting back to the two who might be the next U.S. president, Tim McCann said it will take continued reliance on partnerships to get anything done.

“No, we do not have a president in either candidate that can at this time do anything about it without help in the Middle East,” he wrote Romney emphasized a common Republican viewpoint that it’s not government that makes business successful.

That drew a mix of response from Missouri Watchdog users.

“Government cannot make jobs,” Dennis Wegner wrote. “They are a cost, an expense and IOU to the future.”

“So if government is so unnecessary to business, why do they keep fighting for tax breaks and government handouts?” asked Kim Netz.

Obama said the United States is stronger now than it was four years ago.

User Claudia Morpus Gaertner disagreed.

“It is not stronger,” she wrote. “We still have high unemployment. We have a weaker stance all over the world, and we have $6 trillion more in debt. What exactly is stronger?”

Then the can got kicked back to the previous Republican president.

“Obama didn’t start this debt,” Kris Downing wrote. “George W. (Bush) did.”

Missouri Watchdog fans gave the edge to Romney in the end by a 2-to-1 margin, and they said he won handily. Only about half felt the debate was as close as Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, as the San Francisco Giants led the Show Me State’s beloved St. Louis Cardinals 8-0 late in the game.

Johnny Kampis

NEBRASKA

Nebraska Watchdog reader Ryan Cairns questioned the premise that educating our youth creates jobs, saying while improving the nation’s education system is necessary, “money and investors” create jobs.

This sparked a healthy debate over the premise, with readers like Wanda Caffrey suggesting higher education isn’t the answer for everyone. Reader Brynn Alexander said education begins at home.

And in a totally unscientific poll of Nebraska Watchdog Facebook Debate Watch party-goers, 178 people answered our question, “Who won?”

The results: 109 said Romney; 69 said Obama.

Deena Winters

OKLAHOMA

America’s relationship with Israel was the focus of one lively exchange on the CapitolBeatOK Facebook page during the last debate between Republican Mitt Romney and Democratic incumbent Barack Obama.

President Obama said, “Israel is a true friend, it is our greatest ally in the region.” Asked if that were a surprising comment, James Burgin wondered why Obama did not meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Another viewer, Anthony W. Gamblin said Obama’s actions “contradict his rhetoric.” Davod Nematpour wondered why Israelis “still have a navy barricade to the Gaza Strip.”

The stream diverted when several chatters encouraged Chase Davis, who said he is 16 years old, to care about issues because, as Russell Cantrell said, "your future is on the line."

On a related topic, Facebook friends were divided on whether or not democracy in its current form in Egypt is better than the prior regime which kept peace with Israel.

Viewers who posted their thoughts were divided on the issue. 

Late in the debate, strong division emerged at the Oklahoma Watchdog Facebook page over use of drone technology domestically.  Several viewers expressed strong opposition to drones, while one, Saundra Sam Burrus-Grimes asserted she was “not really” worried about the possibility.

Patrick B. McGuigan

PENNSYLVANIA

Though Monday night’s debate had the static topic of foreign policy, it seemed the candidates couldn’t help themselves from alluding to their plans for the nation at home.

Romney made a point of mention his “5-Point Plan” aimed at economic growth, indicating a strong economy will keep America strong globally. President Obama said the United States must concern itself with “nation building at home” even as it works with other countries overseas, and both took  opportunities to talk about education.

As pointed out by Don Palesky on PA Independent’s Facebook page, that migth have had something to do with moderator Bob Schieffer.

In a night chock-full of discussion about America’s role in the world, Romney said the greatest threat to the nation is a nuclear-capable Iran, while the president said terrorist networks posed the biggest threat. Romney criticized Obama for taking too long to get sanctions on Iran, while the president said those terms were worked on since “day one” in office, with cooperation from other counties.

But hearing about plans for military intervention in other parts of the world, and plans for military spending, left some longing for different views. Pennsylvania resident Brian Kitson was left thinking about past candidates.

Despite stinging rebuttals pointing out where their opponent was wrong or misinformed, the candidates agreed on several points. That included Romney coming out in his support for the use of drones in overseas attacks.

On Facebook, Kirk Howard of Pittsburgh, whose profile picture features a Gary Johnson logo, took a moment to point out how presidential debates don’t offer an opportunity to hear all the views.

Melissa Daniels

VIRGINIA

Watchdog Virginia Bureau readers were all over the comments made by Barack Obama and Mitt Romney Monday night with commentary of their own.

Watchdog Virginia Bureau — along with Watchdog.org bureaus around the country — had some lively debates on its on Facebook page to complement the one-on-one presidential debate. As the 90-minute debate took shape in Florida, perspectives from Virginia readers ranged from calm to — well, let’s just say colorful.

But, whatever the tone, one thing was clear from Facebook fans in the commonwealth — how America handles its affairs abroad matters.

Some readers, like Sarah Smith Lawson, advocated that America needs more military, not less. Reader Nancy Ithier wrote along similar lines.

But at least one admitted conservative, Eric Winship, said conservatives can’t continue to herald defense as the “sacred cow” when it comes to the budget. Everything’s gotta give.

Overall, Virginia Watchdog readers were more impressed with the president. Our informal and unscientific Facebook poll showed Obama with the edge in the final debate — but not by much. As of 11:30 p.m. ET on Monday, 88 readers said Obama was victorious, while 78 said Romney was.

Kathryn Watson

WISCONSIN

Wisconsinites had more reason than most to skip the third and final presidential debate Monday night.

While Obama and Romney were having their say, two of the Green Bay Packers’ division rivals, the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions, were duking it out on Monday Night Football.

Wisconsin Reporter asked its Facebook fans what they’d be watching Monday night —:  358 said the debate, but nearly as many said the NFL game, Major League Baseball or “anything else.”

But those who watched the debate had plenty to say on the Wisconsin Reporter Facebook page. 

Kirsten Adshead

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