The streets in Rogers Park were quiet yesterday evening, but inside the Mayne Stage Theater, 1328 W. Morse Ave, Romney-Ryan supporters were loudly proclaiming their love for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. With cantankerous laughter and snarky bombs, the 50 or so people in attendance made their party affiliations clearly known.
The second presidential debate last night at Hofstra University in New York was a town hall style match-up that brought up topics such as gun violence, women’s health issues and immigration.
“Eat, drink, have fun and be loud,” Chicago Republican Party Chairman Adam Robinson told the assembled viewers. He added that events like these let people know that there are Republicans in Chicago.
According to a Gallup survey that tracks party affiliation by state from 2011, Illinois is considered solidly democratic. Republicans make up about 35 percent of the state and Democrats make up about 48 percent.
Dan Rutherford, Illinois State Treasurer and chair of Romney’s Illinois campaign told the assembled viewers, “We are not giving up an inch in the state of Illinois.” Rutherford also described a scene of Romney being sworn in as president.
Before the debate there was laughter and chatting among the attendees but when the lights dimmed, the clocks hit 8 p.m. and Mitt Romney walked onto the stage, people were out of their seats and clapping.
Swanette Triem, a retired teacher said she came out to the event to show support for the GOP and that Romney will get the country back on track. “He’s a business man,” said Triem.
Romney’s experience in business includes that of a management consultant and running a private equity firm, Bain Capital, in which he helped start companies such as Staples. His work as a venture capitalist and restoring businesses has led his supporters to believe he can restore America.
But while Romney got a positive response from voters at the Mayne Stage Theater, when Obama spoke, there were frequent scoffs and many cries of, “What is he talking about?”
“We haven’t heard the governor on any specifics beyond Big Bird and eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood,” said Obama during the debate. In response a viewer yelled out, “Aw, he brought up big bird!’
But no matter who was speaking, the spectators seemed enthralled with the verbal sparring on-screen. Eyes were glued to the two candidates and Candy Crowley, the moderator.
This event is a “show of solidarity,” for all the Republicans in the city of Chicago, said Colleen Roberts, an attorney and longtime Romney supporter. “He has the experience.”
The crowd seemed to be looking for a one-two punch from Romney, who performed well in the previous debate by their estimation. More raucous attendees yelled, “Get him, Mitt!” and “Duke it out!” though they were quickly shushed by other viewers.
After the debate, the viewers primarily agreed they thought Romney emerged the winner.
Barry Weitz, a retired IRS agent said the event itself was great, and what Romney said about both the middle class and the economy stood out to him the most.
During the debate, Romney said he would like to simplify the tax code, that middle class payers would no longer pay capital gains or dividends, and that he would not raise taxes on the middle class. He added, “I want to get us on track to a balanced budget.
“[It’s] lonely as a Republican in Chicago,” said Weitz, who also said that while he wished more people attended the event, he would take what he could get.