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Local Presidential Debate Viewing Parties Draw Passionate Republicans, Democrats

Local Republican and Democrat groups gathered to watch the first of the presidential debates.

Although people watching the first of the 2012 presidential debates in Denver on Wednesday night weren't permitted to cheer or jeer, those watching at local viewing parties did.

In Livonia, at the OneUnder Bar & Grill on Five Mile Road, the two 11th Congressional district Republican groups met to watch the debate in the company of fellow Mitt Romney supporters.

State Rep. Kurt Heise (R-Plymouth), Wayne County Commissioner Laura Cox and candidate for the Wayne County commission, Shannon Price, were also in attendance. They all will be listed on the ballot in November.

Northville resident and Wayne 11th Congressional District Republican Committee chair Joseph Xuereb said Romney has had a mobilizing effect on local GOP supporters.

"I haven't seen this level of grassroots involvement in a long time," Xuereb said. "I think it's attributable to the fact that everyone realizes this country is at a precipice. Four more years of Obama is going to crush us in terms of debt and hidden taxes."

Romney's background as a businessman helps him connect with Michigan voters, he said.

In Canton, about 20 local Democrats gathered at the Western Wayne County Democrats' campaign office at Joy and Lilley roads to watch the debate. 

The group, which included Rep. Dian Slavens (D-Canton), Wayne County Commission candidate Jim Amar, State Representative candidate Tim Roraback (D-Plymouth), partial-term U.S. Congressional candidate David Curson (D-Belleville) and Michigan Democratic Delegate Sommer Foster (D-Canton), watched the MSNBC broadcast on a large-screen projector, cheering on Obama and playing a debate-themed Bingo game created by Mother Jones magazine that scores points when specific phrases or mannerisms take place during the debate.

There was a sense among attendees after the debate that Romney might have out-performed Obama in the debate, but that Obama's responses hit closer to home.

"Personally, I think Barack Obama did better because he actually addressed the questions," said Tracy Ringstad of Canton. 

In downtown Northville, about 70 Obama supporters packed a room at the Northville Sports Den to cheer on their candidate.

11th Congressional District Democratic candidate and Canton Township Trustee Syed Taj addressed the group and state Democratic chair Mark Brewer watched the debate with the group.

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