SANTA CRUZ — Hundreds of people packed the Sequoia Room in the newly renovated Hotel Paradox in Santa Cruz Wednesday night for the first debate between Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama.
The mostly Democratic crowd was animated and lively, cheering when Obama made his points and jeering or outright laughing when Romney made his.
Santa Cruz Country Democratic Party Chairman Michael Breeden said that the upcoming election holds high stakes for Democrats, with several key candidates vying for their seats such as Assemblyman Luis Alejo and incumbents U.S. Rep. Sam Farr and Sen. Dianne Feinstein. He also discussed Propositions 30 and 32, both of which have drawn the attention of teachers.
“Pretty much every social issue that’s important to us is coming this election,” he said.
But the crowd was there to hear the presidential candidates sparring for the first time, and the debate Wednesday focused on domestic policies, largely on the budget.
The debate touched on job creation, reducing the national deficit, changes to social security and education.
They also discussed health care, debating Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act, which Romney said he plans to repeal.
After the debate, newly elected Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend, Santa Cruz City Council candidate Richelle Noroyan and former Santa Cruz Mayor Mike Rotkin joined emcee Richard Stockton onstage for a wrap-up discussion.
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