- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 8, 2008

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.

They also complained the town-hall-style event did not include questions on education, crime, drug policy or gas prices.

Dennis Smith, a Republican financial adviser from Bloomington, who came to the gathering undecided, left the watch party leaning toward Mr. Obama.

“I liked his response about what we need to sacrifice,” he said. “The most important thing in the next president’s term will be the ability to bring the country together. I think Obama is more likely to do that.”

The group - brought together via BarackObama.com - was weighted with supporters of the Democratic nominee. But a handful of Republicans attended, with all but one saying they weren’t going to be persuaded.

Ms. Myers, a former high school principal, said her brother and brother-in-law are Republicans, along with her mom, who has never voted for a Democrat. But her goal in getting her family members to attend the party was not to change any minds.

“I just want to have a conversation. I don’t want to convince anyone,” she said.

The Obama supporters at several points in the night felt like Mr. McCain was dodging questions, and groaned each time the Republican used his signature line: “My friends.”

“I hate it when he says that,” one debate watcher complained as others laughed.

“I’m not his friend,” Obama supporter Mary Jo Rattermann said from the back of the room.

Another woman chimed in: “This guy is not my friend, how many houses does he have? Seven, eight, nine, ten? He doesn’t know how many he has.”

There was predictably partisan head-shaking and mocking, mostly directed toward Mr. McCain.

The multiracial group spanned several generations, but each person was similarly transfixed on the television.

When Mr. McCain needled his rival by saying, “I’ll answer the question,” Ms. Myers shouted, “Unlike Sarah,” a reference to McCain running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin who last week avoided answering several questions.

Another woman piped up, “Did he just wink?”

Several started laughing at the joke about Mrs. Palin winking during her debate, but one of the Republicans in the room grew annoyed when the Obama supporters mocking Mr. McCain grew louder.

“I’m not able to hear,” he told the host, frowning.

The group liked Mr. Brokaw asking who would be considered for Treasury secretary under either man’s administration.

“Good question!” two people shouted.

When Mr. Obama railed on AIG executives who took a retreat after getting money from the government, saying they “should be fired,” the room applauded.

Mr. Obama will hold a rally here Wednesday. Polls show Mr. McCain with a lead in the Hoosier State, but the race has tightened as Team Obama treated it like a true battleground with multiple offices, candidate visits and television commercials.

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