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OPB: Some on the fence after watching the debate at PSU
Author: April Baer
Posted: October 8, 2012

Read and listen to the original story on OPB here.

Across the Pacific Northwest Wednesday night, voters spent some screen time watching President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney mix it up in their first Presidential debate. April Baer watched the debate with some young voters at Portland State University, and filed this report.

Several hundred students answered the call to watch at the Smith Memorial Union, as part of a study for the Department of Communications.

Rosa Martinez voted for President Obama in 2008.

Rosa Martinez "I'm a little biased, but I honestly do think President Obama had a better speech today. I think it was really interesting the way he focused on higher education."

She says she's also on board with what the President said about expanding access to health care.

Dylan Strauss says he's leaning toward supporting the President, but not because of anything he heard in the debate.

Dylan Strauss "Basically, it's the choice between the devil and the superdevil."

Strauss said he also noticed Romney aggressive on the attack. It reminded him of something he'd seen before.

Dylan Strauss "I forget which awards show it was where Kanya was like, 'I'm-a let you finish!' And Romney was just doing that the entire frigging time. Especially toward the end where Obama was slamming his Medicare proposal and he was like, 'No, wait! I've still got more stuff to say!' "

A few floors down in the building's cafeteria, the PSU college Republicans, including Julia Rabadi, were cheering on Romney.

Julia Rabadi "Romney, one; Obama, zero!"

Some in the group said they'd had reservations about Romney before the debate, but were impressed by his fire.

Mike Garvin said he was OK with the level of detail in the debate.

Mike Garvin "President Obama kept saying 'Governor Romney says he has a plan, but he won't say what's in that plan. Anybody in the business world knows you don't put all your cards on the table. Cards can be stolen. Obama could turn around and say, 'I'm going to implement those ideas before the election'."

Sam Matz is registered as an independent voter.

Sam Matz "I thought it was interesting. It went way better than I expected it to go. I would prefer Obama, at least currently. While Romney was really good at hitting certain points, in several situations where Obama pointed out he didn't have data backing him up, Romney would sidestep."

Another student on the fence, Arlon Solomon, saw the debate very differently.

Arlon Solomon "I think both of them did really well. I was really surprised with how Mitt Romney did. I think he held his own and did very well."

In spite of everything he heard, Solomon isn't committing yet.

Arlon Solomon "I'm that one person they're trying to swing. I go on the fence every time I hear one of them speak. So I'm excited to hear the other debates."

Solomon gets his chance in just about two weeks, on October 16th.