Who Won The Third GOP Debate In Boulder? Local Watch Parties Had Their Own Opinions
Dozens of watch parties were held across the state Wednesday night as the Republican Party's presidential contenders held their third debate at the University of Colorado-Boulder.
In downtown Denver, at the Epernay Lounge, business and grassroots Republican groups hosted a debate watch party that mostly consisted of moderate Republicans; many were undecided and had several possibilities for support.
Denver attorney Wade Walton, a member of the Lincoln Club of Colorado – the oldest Republican club in the state (Walton is registered as an unaffiliated voter) – said he was pleased that the candidates didn't spend the debate attacking each other.
"I think moderators try to do that, they try to encourage the fighting amongst them and I'm glad they stuck together and didn't do too much," he said.
Walton believes Sen. Ted Cruz is the smartest of the group. He also likes Donald Trump's enthusiasm and Carly Fiorina. In fact, he could back almost any of the GOP contenders, except for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
"I'm just not a big fan of him with his common core stance," said Walton. "And we don't need any more Bushes in the office I don't think."
Walton's colleague, oil and gas attorney Nathan McKibben, was a strong backer of Donald Trump coming into the debate and the Boulder CNBC event focusing on the economy only reinforced his opinion.
"What I like about Trump is that he's not politically correct, he shoots people straight," said McKibben, a registered Democrat who said he leans Republican. "We need somebody in the White House that is very strong."
McKibben's support of Trump was not the norm among this more moderate crowd at the Epernay Lounge. While Trump generated quite a few laughs, many in the crowd said they didn't view him as a serious contender.
Aubrey Blankenship of Highlands Ranch, active in young Republican circles, said the debates have helped educate her about the various candidates. For instance, Blankenship said Fiorina wasn't on her radar until the second debate. After the third debate at CU-Boulder, Sen. Marco Rubio, along with Fiorina, are her top choices. She said her key issues are mental health awareness and public safety.
"Whether it's ISIS or police officers in general," said Blankenship. "I have a very difficult time with the message coming out there these days that law enforcement is out to get you, because it's really not. Those guys put their lives on the line every day."
The debate didn't seem to change anyone's overall opinion. According to an informal poll attendees took, Rubio came away the clear winner; he also gained the most supporters. Trump was voted the loser of the debate, not far behind him was Jeb Bush.
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