Thursday October 4, 2012

PITTSFIELD - Opinions of which candidate won Wednesday night's first presidential debate weren't necessarily indicative of viewers' political alignment. Despite hoots and hollers for President Barack Obama's point of view at Dottie's Coffee Lounge, 444 North St., and jeers at Republican candidate Mitt Romney, the GOP candidate still received kudos.

Utilizing a projector system, Dottie's streamed the debate via HuffPost Live on the Huffington Post. The debate was televised and streamed through most major networks and websites from University of Denver in Colorado.

Furniture was rearranged to allow the nearly 30 people in the coffee shop a prime vantage point of the projector screen. Salad and pasta were available.

Longtime PBS anchor Jim Lehrer moderated - sort of - the debate, outlining the two-minute period that each candidate had to speak, but they rarely stayed within those guidelines. "[ Lehrer] lost control - he shouldn't moderate another one," said Jim Toner, a Sheffield native.

Lehrer also said the audience in Denver agreed to not cheer or jeer the candidates. No such agreement existed at the small coffee shop in Pittsfield. Obama's points were occasionally met with cheers, then the same ones would yell "Shut up!" at the image of Romney on the projector screen.

" In my opinion, Obama won," said Pittsfield native Justin Allen. "He presented his argument in a clear, concise manner and set out his plan."

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, seemed to have little support from the crowd during the debate, but seemed to garner support after the fact.

"It was a draw, which means Romney had the advantage," said Lanesborough native Molly Tabachnikov. "I disagreed with everything that he said, but he presented it well. He gave the facts that he needed." Romney and Obama both went over in their times, but Romney utilized it well, according to Toner.

"Romney possessed the time better and kind of controlled Lehrer, it seemed," Toner said.

Romney made some references to Massachusetts in his argument, specifically the state health care.

"His plan was brilliant," Tabachnikov said. "That's why Obama molded his plan after it."

To reach Adam Poulisse: apoulisse@berkshireeagle.com, or (413) 496-6214 On Twitter:@BE_Poulisse