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Recap On Watch Parties Hosted In Washtenaw County For Presidential Debates

Aug 1, 2019

As part of the presidential debates hosted in Detroit during the last few days, the Washtenaw County Democratic Party held two watch parties.  89.1 WEMU's Jorge Avellan has a recap. 


The first watch party held on Tuesday attracted over 40 residents to Aubree’s Pizzeria and Grill in Ypsilanti Township.  An Ann Arbor resident who did not want to be identified felt the debate was dominated by Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.  They spoke in-depth about health care and immigration.    

"I think it’s just hard for everybody to keep all of the candidates in mind, all of their positions.  So I think it’s natural that we focus on the leading candidates.  And I think Sanders is having a really good debate and making some great points," said the resident. 

A total of 10 candidates took part in the first debate that was held at the Fox Theatre in Detroit.  Mayor Pete Buttigieg from South Bend, Indiana was part of that group as well.  Michael Friday from Ann Arbor said the 37 year-old mayor brings something new to the table, and not just because he’s openly gay.

"He’s more in touch with reality of the time.  Everybody is older, in their 60’s, they’re part of the generation that is all about the old ways tradition.  But now its almost 2020, we need to step out of the tradition," said Friday. 

However, Friday, who is 25 years old, is in favor of the Medicare for All plan presented by Senator Bernie Sanders.

"My insurance runs out next year when I turn 26.  So if they can guarantee me free health care, I’m all for it," added Friday.

The second watch party was held the following night on Wednesday, also at Aubree’s, but this time in Dexter.  The crowd was a bit smaller with just over 30 people.  They watched as most of the candidates took a swing at former Vice-President Joe Biden on issues such as health care and immigration.  Shawn Danino from Ann Arbor was not impressed with the 10 candidates.

"Most of the folks on the board, I find their plan on Medicare for All to be pretty unsatisfying.  With a possible exception of Bill de Blasio," said Danino.

Jessica Gordon-Rose from Ann Arbor was glad that immigration was a main topic of discussion.  But she’s concerned that some candidates, such as former Vice-President Joe Biden, hesitated on questions regarding who should be allowed in the country.

"America has been considered a place for opportunity.  My mother use to say gold on the street, if you work hard.  We believe in the Statue of Liberty and so, this has to be continued.  Diversity is important to bring new ideas, new thoughts, new perspectives," said Gordon-Rose.

Gordon-Rose then recapped her thoughts on the candidates that participated in the debates in Detroit.

"I’ve been listening to Biden, I don’t know if he can handle the Trumpisms.  I was really impressed yesterday with Sanders and with Warren.  I think they’re stronger.  It’s a chess game you know," added Gordon-Rose. 

Meanwhile, Jill Danbert from Ann Arbor says she would like to see a woman president in her lifetime.  Danbert believes it could be Senator Kamala Harris from California who participated in the debate.

"Tonight, she’s very controlled and strong.  And her mind and the way she communicated is very strong and I think that’s amazing," said Danbert. 

Others at the watch party said they will support whichever democratic candidate gets the party’s nomination.  They just want Donald Trump out of the White House.

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— Jorge Avellan is a reporter for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him javellan@emich.edu