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HomeWorldDebate-watchers in the Biden and Trump camps seem to agree on something....

Debate-watchers in the Biden and Trump camps seem to agree on something. Biden had a bad night


That sob, from customers in a Chicago bar when he was president Joe Biden stumbled verbally for the first time in his debate with Donald Trumpspoke on behalf of many Americans on Thursday evening.

On TV nights, in bars, at a bowling alley and other places where people from across the country gathered to watch, Trump supporters, cheerfully, and Biden supporters, in their fear or even fear, seemed largely in agreement to be that they had witnessed an unbalanced confrontation.

Toward the end of the 90-plus minutes, some Democrats said what partisans say to best highlight issues: It’s early. One debate won’t necessarily change the nation. Judge him by what he’s done and wants to do, not by what he says.

But many were disappointed.

Biden “just didn’t have the spark that we needed tonight,” Rosemarie DeAngelus, a Democrat from South Portland, Maine, said from her viewing party at Broadway Bowl. Trump, she said, showed “more guts and more strength,” even though he told a lot of lies, she said.

Fellow Biden supporter and bowling alley-goer Lynn Miller, of nearby Old Orchard Beach, said, “It’s like someone gave Trump an Adderall and I don’t think they gave Joe any.” (The drug is used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.)

“I’ve never seen Trump more coherent,” Miller said. “And I hate to say this, but Joe seemed a little off. But I still support him over Trump, because Trump has lied about everything that’s happened.”

Trump supporters certainly agreed that the difference in energy and cohesion between the candidates was striking. Wearing her red MAGA cap at a festive pro-Trump party in the Detroit suburb of Novi, Bonnie Call said of Biden, “He just can’t think on his feet at all. President Trump is just un.”

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In McAllen, Texas, near the Mexican border, London’s Bar & Grill is usually noisy on a day just before the weekend, but many diners were quiet as they took in the debate from TV screens, where Biden supporters, Trump supporters and undecided voters mingled.

Among them, Vance Gonzales, 40, a moderate Democrat, said the debate convinced him that “we need another Democratic candidate, to be honest with you, because this is not competitive.” He said of Biden: “He’s not on track anywhere. I think it’s disappointing.”

Marco Perez, 53, voted for Biden in the last election and expressed frustration with what he heard and saw. “I want to hear more facts, more action, instead of more finger-pointing, more accusations or false accusations,” he said.

His girlfriend Virginia Lopez, who was sitting with him, came away still unsure who she would support in November. She heard some tough but unsatisfying answers from the Republican. “Trump is deviating from all the answers and he’s just lying,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like a real debate.”

Biden? “I just feel like he’s too old,” she said.

At the bar, Hector Mercado, 72, a veteran wearing a U.S. military beret, was a conspicuous patron as he listened intently to the debate. Although he was a Democrat for several years, he switched parties under Ronald Reagan, a Republican.

Mercado heard Biden accuse Trump of making derogatory comments about veterans, but it didn’t sway his support for Trump. “Yeah, he said some bad things about veterans in the beginning,” he said of Trump. “But now he’s like, ‘No, I support the veterans and I’ve never had a problem with him.’ I got an increase in my VA disability when Trump was president.

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Biden’s performance left him cold. “I think Trump is stronger,” he said, “and Biden is a little weak.”

At a migrant shelter in Tijuana, across the border in Mexico, mostly people from southern Mexico hoping to seek asylum in the US watched the debate in folding chairs in front of a screen on the wall.

The migrants, most of whom have been waiting months for their nomination in that process, stared blankly at the screen as a Spanish-translated version of the debate played out, watching an American democratic ritual in motion.

Andrea, who did not give her last name because of the threat of violence at home, has been living at the shelter for nine months. Her takeaway from the debate: “Well, I feel like people in the United States don’t like Mexicans anymore.”

At Hula Hula, a tiki bar in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, guests cheered wildly when their city was mentioned by Trump — even though it came up as the Republican complained about lawlessness. Biden supporter Amy Pottinger of Seattle said the Democratic president performed best when Trump angered him.

“Once he started talking about Roe v. Wade, it was like Biden woke up and was here,” she said.

At the same Chicago bar where guests voiced their displeasure over Biden’s missteps — the M Lounge in the South Loop — the president scored with this jab at Trump: “You have the morals of an alley cat.”

“Wow!” said the viewers there.

But at a Democratic viewing party in downtown Atlanta, it was a nerve-wracking evening.

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“I’m so nervous, I feel like my baby is going to get on stage,” Georgia Sen. Nikki Merritt said early on, stroking her stomach as if she had butterflies in her stomach.

Technicians struggled with sound and video. During a power outage, the crowd chanted “Let’s Go Joe!”

“I want to hear Joe Biden talk to the voters and ignore the crazy in the room,” said Matthew Wilson, the vice chairman of the Democratic Party in Georgia.

But the man they called crazy could not be ignored.


Associated Press journalists Charlie Arbogast in Chicago; Valerie Gonzalez in McAllen, Texas; Gregory Bull in Tijuana, Mexico; Mike Householder in Detroit; Robert Bukaty in South Portland, Maine; Mike Pesoli in Washington, D.C.; and Lindsey Wasson in Seattle contributed to this report.



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