NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Democrats rallied behind two of their champions Tuesday night in their South Norwalk headquarters, listening to Senate candidate Chris Murphy in person and cheering President Barack Obama via MSNBC.
About 50 people watched the second presidential debate, most sitting on folding chairs in front of a high-definition television in the sparsely furnished room. All agreed Obama had done much better against challenger Mitt Romney than in the first debate.
"Romney got knocked out," Common Council member David Watts (D-District A) said as the debate ended. Travis Simms agreed, saying, "He killed him this time."
The event began one hour before the debate, with Murphy as the guest speaker, motivating the troops in his campaign against Republican Linda McMahon for the Senate seat now occupied by Joe Lieberman. Murphy said it was a tough race, adding "I regret all the wrestling action figures I bought when I was a kid."
Murphy predicted an "awesome performance" for Obama before heading out the door. "Frankly, I think he's going to push back on this fountain of lies that comes from Mitt Romney and the Republicans these days," he said.
The Democrats were rooting for moderator Candy Crowley as much as they were for Obama, exulting when she told Romney he had used up his time.
The cheering began six minutes into the debate when Obama said, "Gov. Romney doesn't have a five-point plan, he has a one-point plan," in reference to Romney's plan to create jobs. They applauded when when Obama mentioned the "47 percent" in his answer to the last question.
In between were many minor celebrations. "The president is in the building," said Norwalk Democratic Town Committee Chairman Amanda Brown. "Liar, liar pants on fire," Diane Lauricella said several times.
When it was over, former police Chief Harry Rilling said the debate was "180 from last time."
"I think Obama came across clearly as in control of the details and the issues, and I think he did a remarkable job," Rilling said. "We need to see the leadership that he had and today he showed it."
Brad Schmidt said Obama was "too polite" in the first debate and had been "too polite" with the Republicans in Congress during his term. "Tonight he showed me he's not going to try to get along anymore," Schmidt said.
Eloisa Melendez agreed Obama did great. "I'm scared to check my Twitter," she said. "I just graduated high school so I have a lot of younger (friends) – people in high school have so much to say and they can't even vote."
"I think the president did much better than the last time," said Eileen Heaphy, a Stamford politician who is exploring a run for mayor of Stamford. "I personally didn't think the president did that bad the last time. I think people were surprised at how well Romney did the last time. That's what made the contrast."'
Correction made, 9:23 p.m. Wednesday