The Washington Times - October 8, 2008, 02:23AM

INDIANAPOLIS Here in battleground Indiana, I watched the debate with a group of mostly Obama supporters.

 

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When John McCain pointed at Barack Obama and referred to his rival as “that one,” my eyebrows shot up and I was pretty certain that would become a “moment” of the evening.

 

Even though I’m from the Golden State, after five years in D.C. I’m now admittedly an “Inside the Beltway” girl always catching the political angle. Case in point: The few dozen people at the watch party didn’t seem to notice McCain’s remark.

 

It was an attentive group, ready to heckle or respond to the men on the television screen, but the only immediate response to McCain’s “that one” comment came via my IM (cmbellantoni777) from a politically minded friend.

 

When the debate ended, the chatter in the room began.

 

The voters were frustrated that more domestic issues weren’t discussed, and talked about each candidate’s performance.

 

“What about crime and drug use and the methamphetamine problem,” said Kelly Bentley, a Republican school board member who decided to back Obama after last week’s VP debate. “Those are the kinds of things that haven’t been talked about yet.”

 

No one I talked to mentioned McCain’s comment.

 

But the chatterers on the TV in the background immediately went there, and after a few minutes, some in the room started to talk about it. Two voters told me they hadn’t even caught it when McCain first said it.

 

Here’s my story that will be in the morning paper.

 

INDIANAPOLIS | Sen. Barack Obama supporters gathered around the television for Tuesday’s debate warned against the presidential candidates going negative.

“People don’t want to see that, they want to see real answers,” said Cindy Jackson, 59.

She was one of a few dozen people gathered at Carol Myers’ home here to witness the second debate between Mr. Obama and Republican nominee Sen. John McCain.

The Democratic nominee acknowledged the concern - amid a week where the race has gotten especially nasty - in one of his opening answers.

“You’re not interested in hearing politicians pointing fingers,” Mr. Obama said.

“Thank you,” several debate watchers here said in unison.

But the candidates didn’t really keep to that idea, and several voters at the party said they wished the debate would have stayed more positive.

 

Read the full story here.

 

I covered the last Obama-McCain debate from Memphis, writing about a watch party where the debate changed no minds. At that event, there were several Republicans and a few undecided voters, along with Obama supporters.

 

This event was a bit different - I met just one undecided voter who was leaning Obama at the end of the night. There were a few Republicans on hand who are backing the Democratic nominee.

 

Buck Hatcher of nearby Zionsville said he is backing McCain because he doesn’t like Obama’s economic policies, and felt the Democrat is not being up front about his tax plans. He’s also a national security voter.

 

“Especially in light of the war on terror I’m not confident he has the experience,” Hatcher told me.

 

I found Carol Myers on the Obama Web site, one of a handful of events scheduled for debate night. She started paying attention to Obama last fall when her college-age daughter asked her to check out his Web site.

 

“What I really feel in my heart is he has the capacity to lead with his heart and mind,” she said. “He’s more open to considering all of the possibilities and points of view.”

 

(In case anyone is wondering, I searched for McCain watch parties within 100 miles of Indianapolis, and found none.)

 

Party attendee Jackie Garvey was already an Obama supporter, but said Team Obama’s new push on the Keating Five made her “so angry” when she thinks about McCain.

 

“I had forgotten about that. I was absolutely horrified and that shaded everything I heard him say tonight,” said Garvey, an executive director of an education nonprofit.

 

Dennis Jackson summed up the evening: “I don’t think it changed anything one way or the other. I thought it was kind of boring.”

 

Christina Bellantoni , national political reporter,
The Washington Times

 

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