Local voters expressed some varied opinions about Wednesday's first of three presidential debates scheduled this month between Republican candidate Mitt Romney and Democratic President Barack Obama.
Jean Erlwein, 89, of Marietta, plans to watch all three debates, and said they were off to a good start on Wednesday night.
"I think they're both making some good points, but we have to put education ahead of other issues first of all," she said.
Erlwein said the country has other needs, too.
"We need good roads and bridges, and all of that also," she said. "And I think if Obama gets a second term he would take care of that-if Congress would work with him. They need to throw out all of the party politics."
Marietta resident Barbara Bradley, 51, said the first debate was interesting, and agreed that both candidates made good points. But she said the debate didn't provide quite enough information for her to make a decision on how she'll vote in November.
The first of three presidential debates between Republican Mitt Romney and Democratic President Barack Obama was held at the University of Denver in Denver, Colo., Wednesday night. The topic was domestic policy.
A vice presidential debate between Republican contender Paul Ryan and Democrat Vice President Joe Biden is slated Oct. 11 from 9 to 10:30 p.m. at Centre College in Danville, Ky. The topic will be domestic and foreign policy.
The second presidential debate will be held Oct. 16, from 9 to 10:30 p.m. at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. The town meeting format will include foreign and domestic policy.
The final debate is scheduled Oct. 22, from 9 to 10:30 p.m. at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. The topic will be foreign policy.
"I've always voted with the (Republican) party, but I'm concerned about some issues-more jobs are definitely needed and the economy is a major concern," Bradley said. "I have elderly parents, so I'm also concerned about Medicare and Medicaid. And I want to think about retiring myself, while I'm young enough to enjoy it."
Though she generally sides with the GOP, Bradley said she wasn't crazy about Romney as a candidate.
"But I also think Obama has not delivered on what he promised," she said. "And I don't think we're better off today than we were four years ago."
Bradley said the presidential debates, rather than mainstream media reports, will have bearing on how she votes next month.
"The major media provide too much of a slanted view for me," she said.
Jack Marks, 68, of Fleming is also a registered Republican, but said he takes a more moderate viewpoint and tries to honestly look at both sides of every issue.
"The debate was informative," he said. "I thought Romney was a lot more aggressive. It seemed like President Obama didn't want to attack or offend anybody."
Marks said he felt the president could have refuted some points made against him, but he was too laid back.
"I think that will show up in the polls in coming weeks," he said.
Marks noted Obama had to defend his policies, but Romney has not been real specific about his own plans.
"And the only thing Republicans have been trying to do for last four years is make Obama into a one-term president. How can anyone work with a Congress like that?" he asked.
Cutler resident John Amrine, 64, thought the debate went well.
"I was pretty impressed. I thought Romney spelled out the deficiencies of the Obama administration," he said. "I certainly think Romney came out on top. And I felt president stumbled at times. That may change in the next debate, but I think he was a little gun shy this time."
Amrine said he was particularly interested in the health care discussion between the candidates, and felt Romney effectively outlined problems that exist with the so-called Obamacare program.
"I'm a big 10th Amendment supporter when comes to health care. The states should have a say," Amrine added.
Leslie Haas, who chairs the Washington County Republican Party, was happy with Wednesday's debate.
"I'm ecstatic. I was hoping for a break-even, hold the line, contest, but (Romney) was ready to say what he believed and gave back as good as he got," she said. "And Governor Romney didn't let falsehoods go unrefuted-he said what he believed on health care, economy, tax cuts, and other issues. He did a fantastic job."
Haas said Obama seemed to be shaken by challenges from Romney.
"But the moderator, Jim Lehrer, didn't seem to be in control of the debate at all," she said.
A group of teens and Marietta College students joined the Republicans to watch the debate at the GOP headquarters on Greene Street.
"They seemed very impressed, too," Haas said. "At some points the kids even erupted into cheers."
Haas said she's now looking forward to next week's debate between Democratic Vice President Joe Biden and Republican challenger Congressman Paul Ryan.
"The debate is on my birthday, and is the best birthday present I could receive," she said.
Molly Varner, chair of the Washington County Democratic Party, said some parts of the debate were exasperating.
"In some ways I found it frustrating-Romney was not telling the truth and kept flip-flopping on issues," she said. "And when they began talking about the $716 billion funding in Medicare, the president explained it, but Romney kept coming back to that, in my opinion he was essentially calling the president a liar."
Varner said Romney called the $716 billion a cut in Medicare, but the president explained that money was not being cut-the system would still maintain that money, it would just be redirected to other areas within Medicare.
The president said the changes were part of a plan to extend the life of the Medicare program.
"The president is also making sure fraud is reported and investigated and that best practices are used to determine the best treatments for patients on a case-by-case basis," she said.
Varner said Romney struck her as someone who was simply telling the audience what they wanted to hear.
"And I don't think there was any clear winner-the president had to keep dealing with Romney's interruptions," she said.
Varner, too, believed Lehrer could have done a better job of moderating the debate.
"When we work with candidates in advance of a debate, we always tell them that timing is everything," she said. "And I expect a presidential debate to be conducted with structure that forces candidates to make their answers concise and to the point."