- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Political junkies in the region are stocking up on red and blue beverages and readying party favors such as Bush blowup dolls and Kerry flip-flops for soirees tonight to celebrate the first presidential debate.

Many have turned debate watching into a sport, fashioning drinking games around the candidates’ answers to questions on foreign policy and planning both public and private watch parties.

Invitations for the watch parties range from the partisan “Come watch Dubya get squashed like a June bug,” to the serious fund-raising “Bring your checkbooks and give what you can.”

Some events are bipartisan. An advertisement posted on Web site washingtondc.craigslist.org/pol for a debate party at Trinity University in Northeast reads: “Whether you are a Bush-lover, Bush-basher, Kerry-lover, or Anti-Kerry-flip-flopper we would love to have you. Come as you are.”

Dozens of parties in the region are listed on the Kerry Web site (www.johnkerry.com), from fund-raisers in bars to small events at private residences where children are welcome.

A “Diapers and Donkeys” party in West Springfield says the event will be a “Mommy and Me political play date.” That party also is a fund-raiser for the Kerry campaign.

A Takoma Park watch party’s invitation said guests will bet on how many times President Bush says “freedom” before the first commercial break and how many times Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry says “wrong for America.”

A similar search for watch parties on the official Bush Web site (www.georgewbush.com) finds five tonight in the region, but many parties are being held for Mr. Bush in the District and in Virginia.

“Compassion abounds on one side, flip-flopping mania on the other,” one party invitation reads.

One Bush party in Bethesda is hosted by three Republicans and their roommate who is a Democrat. The “Party for the President” asks attendees to “help us convert our fourth roommate.”

Political groups RightNow! and PoliticalChicks.com are hosting a watch party at the District’s Grand Hyatt Grand Slam Sports Bar in Northwest. That event is also a fund-raiser.

Official watch parties on both sides also are planned.

The Kerry campaign will host a party at the Old Town Theater in Alexandria with surrogates retired Army Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy and Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat.

Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, a Republican who is expected to run for governor next year, is hosting his own watch party in Glen Allen, Va. Mr. Kilgore is chairman of the state’s Bush campaign.

Entrepreneurs are profiting from the debates as well.

One New Yorker has printed thousands of decks of cards poking fun at Mr. Bush in the spirit of the “52 Most Wanted Terrorists” cards the administration issued before the start of the Iraq war.

A firm helping to promote the Bush cards said they will be used during debate parties.

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