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  • Good chance to hear their differences

  • Republican headquarters in downtown Medford rang out with cheers and applause Wednesday night as President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney sparred during the first presidential debate.
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  • Republican headquarters in downtown Medford rang out with cheers and applause Wednesday night as President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney sparred during the first presidential debate.
    About 40 people filtered through the headquarters throughout the debate, and each of them seemed pleased with Romney's performance on the big stage.
    "I think this was a great debate," said Stuart Sennette of Medford. "The policies and issues were very clear. I think Romney was very clear and made good sense."
    One particular moment that seemed to strike a chord with the gathering was Romney's vocal support of the U.S. Constitution's 10th Amendment, which deals with states' rights and civil liberties.
    "I was really pleased with how Romney supported the conservative values this country was founded on," said Paula Smith of Medford.
    Smith was critical of Obama's body language during the debate, saying he seemed frustrated and unconvincing.
    "He didn't substantiate any of his claims," Smith said of Obama.
    Jackson County Republican Party Chairman Doug Breidenthal, who is running for county commissioner against Democrat Jeff Scroggin, said there will be parties at the headquarters for each of the debates. These parties are open to the public.
    Several of those in attendance said previous debates have proven disappointing because the candidates never engaged each other.
    Wednesday's debate, however, saw moderator Jim Lehrer ceding the floor to the candidates for extended back-and-forth.
    By late evening, the consensus from political pundits from across the country was that Romney emerged the victor of the first of three presidential debates.
    "This was one of the best debates I've seen in a long time," said Kay Harrison of Central Point. "The moderator let them show who they really were and what each one of them stands for."
    Meanwhile, next door to Republican headquarters, a trio of women enjoyed the debate after work over glasses of wine and beer.
    Penny Olson of Ashland said the debates probably wouldn't change very many minds.
    "I can't imagine someone who would not vote for Romney changing their mind after watching this," Olson said.
    Olson, an Obama supporter, said she is planning to vote for the president, and had few expectations from the debates.
    "If the president came out and said something completely out of character for him, then I might change my mind," she said.
    Summer Miller, of Ashland, said she would like to see other presidential candidates from other parties join in the debates besides the Democrat and Republican challengers.
    "I think people would like to see other people and what they would say," Miller said.
    Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.
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