Many view debate with minds made up

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 3, 2004

COAL GROVE - Last night's debate

between President Bush and Sen. John Kerry was a yawner, even over a morning cup of coffee: just ask the people who gathered at the Plaza 52 truck stop in Coal Grove this morning.

Many of the people who congregated at the restaurant said Thursday evening's face off was unimpressive and did not elevate the status of either candidate. Most said it did not affect their opinion of either candidate and would not affect their decision at the ballot box.

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Bill Schuman of Ironton said he watched about three minutes of it before he got a sense of deja vu. "It was the same old thing. Wasn't any of it new," Schuman said.

Others agreed. "If I was waiting for a debate between two men, it would not have made any difference," Deotis Conwell, of Ironton, said. Conwell said Kerry and Bush have made their points about the issues during the campaign and the debate only seemed like an opportunity to rehash their campaign rhetoric.

"I think they're both full of (it), if you really want to know," Butch Waugh of Forestdale said. "I plan to vote but I ain't figured out just which one yet."

"I watched about 15 minutes of it, once at the beginning and once at the end of it," Dan Hatfield of Barboursville, W.Va. said.

"I'd rather see 'em fist fight. It was more like two high school kids having a debate. It didn't seem to make me like either one of them. I was going to vote for (Sen. John) Kerry but now I don't think I'll even vote. … I don't think either man is presidential material."

Hatfield said he did not like it that Kerry blamed President Bush for the war in Iraq. "I think Congress has more power than the president. They should take more of the blame. It doesn't matter who is president."

Keith Ferguson, of Coal Grove, said he watched the debate but was not impressed with the format. "I feel like the questions they asked affected the debate," Ferguson said. "Every question that went to Bush appeared to be asked to put him on the defense, and most of the questions

to Kerry allowed him to be on the offensive. I think it was mediocre. It was very structured. I don't think there were surprises on either side."

A Bush supporter, Ferguson said he will watch the rest of the debates, including the one between Vice-President Dick Cheney and Kerry's running mate, John Edwards. But he said the debate has not changed his mind at all about who to vote for.

Andy Bowen, of Ironton, said he watched the last 10 minutes of the debate but said he did not think any debate would change anyone's mind about who to vote for. "I think most people have got their minds made up. A debate ain't going to change anything."

One man, who identified himself only as "Grouchy" said he didn't like either candidate, particularly Bush. "I don't think he's smart enough to be president. If the democrats could run a decent-looking man with something to say, he could beat Bush by a landslide. But I don't know who that is," he said.

Bob Allen, of Deering, said he attended the Coal Grove-Rock Hill freshmen football game rather than watch the debate. "I'd rather watch that than the debate any time," Allen said.