STEUBENVILLE - Voicing favor for free market economics and smaller government, supporters of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney cheered on their candidate during his televised debate with President Barack Obama Wednesday evening in Denver.
"We are for individualism and accountability - not socialism," said Romney supporter Lynne Whatley while watching the debate at the Triple Play Cafe in Steubenville. "We believe in a free country with a small government. We need to get these oppressive regulations off of small business."
However, in Bellaire, Obama supporters gathered at Flanagan's to say they believe the president is doing a good job - and that they fear the consequences of a potential Romney presidency.
BACKING ROMNEY — Mitt Romney supporter Albert Macre of Wintersville, an accountant and owner of Triple Play Cafe in Steubenville, watched Wednesday night as the Republican presidential candidate debated President Barack Obama. - Casey Junkins
BACKING OBAMA — Supporters of President Barack Obama gathered Wednesday evening at Flanagan’s in Bellaire to cheer him on during the first debate with Republican challenger Mitt Romney. The supporters are, from left, Teresa Ricchetti, Sue Bayat, Pam Wampler, Cassandra Stobbs, Johnette Pollock and Gretchen Young. - Casey Junkins
"I would rather have Obamacare than no care," said Obama supporter Cassandra Stobbs, currently a student at Belmont College. "The president did not come from money. He had to work for everything he has."
"He walked into a total mess when he took over from" President George W. Bush, noted fellow Obama supporter Teresa Ricchetti. "We have to continue down the road to progress."
Recent public opinion polls have shown Obama maintaining a lead in the race to win Ohio's 18 electoral votes, which both candidates consider vital to collect. No president has taken office without winning the Buckeye State since John F. Kennedy in 1960. However, Romney supporters believe a strong showing in the Wednesday debate may give him the momentum needed to close the gap.
"Romney's record as a businessman is very impressive. He knows what it takes to get this economy turned around and create jobs," said Albert Macre, an accountant and owner of Triple Play Cafe. "Most of the clients I serve in my accounting business are doing worse than they did four years ago. It is just time for a new direction.
"We had to build our own business," added Whatley. "The government didn't build that for us."
However, Ricchetti and Stobbs said Obama has plans to increase the availability of higher education, which they believe is key to moving the economy in the right direction.
"Every person in this country should be able to go to college. This is what the president is working for," Ricchetti said.
"We have to stop shipping our jobs overseas," added fellow Obama supporter Pam Wampler. "We have to create jobs in this country."
Ricchetti said local Obama volunteers have been campaigning door to door, noting the reception has mostly been positive.
"There is a lot more work to do. Just because we are ahead in the polls does not mean that we can stop. We have to keep working hard to make sure we turn Belmont (County) blue," she said in reference to the color used to designate when a state has voted for the Democratic candidate.