A local focus group gathered in Chillicothe to watch the debate and express their comments on what they heard
It was pizza and politics in Chillicothe Wednesday night. About a dozen or so people gathered around a large television in Jerry's Pizza to watch the first debate between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney.
"I think I'm probably more undecided than I was when I walked through the door," said Kathryn Clausen, an independent who says she hasn't made up her mind yet. For her the two big issues are health care and education.
Clausen's husband was laid off from a good paying job for two years. During that time she was diagnosed with cancer and her son diagnosed with autism and other son diagnosed with learning disabilities. She pulled one of her sons out of public school and is paying tuition that is equal to a mortgage payment even with a grant.
"I'd like to really know what's going to happen with that," she said.
Hollie Zaniewski-McKillip is a stay-at-home mom. Her husband works, but his job doesn't offer health insurance and they can't afford to buy it on their own.
"It was a waste of my time," she said of the debate. "It seemed like a lot of rhetoric."
She's voting for Obama mainly because of the Affordable Care Act, known commonly as "Obamacare." Despite being solidly in the President's corner, she really wanted to hear some of Romney's ideas, but came away disappointed.
"I heard a lot of plays on words and politician speak I guess."
Her husband, Marcus, is also voting for Obama. He wants to see the President get the chance to fully implement his ideas. He disagreed with Romney that the states, not the federal government, should handle things like education and health care.
"Using the federal government to help unify us is a very important part of this county and making this a great country for our kids and our future beyond that," he said.
Mike Menendez disagrees saying there is no country in the world that has succeeded with socialized medicine or big government. His family knows what it's like to chase the American Dream. When his father was 12 years old he immigrated to the United States from Cuba and eventually started his own business, which is still running today. Menendez says his father is worried about the future.
"My father's exact words to me two weeks ago, if Obama is re-elected there's a very good chance I'll shut the doors. If our taxes go up any more I can't run a business," he said.
Irma Felicia Carey also owns a couple of small businesses and runs a non-profit. She's on the fence about who to vote for but felt the debate helped tip her to one of the candidate, but she didn't want to name who that was.
"As a small business we tried at one point in time to hire employees, but it's difficult because of the workman's comp, the insurances, everything like that that is involved. It's just not worth it," she said.
Like Clausen, she has children with medical issues and says that's where the battle is. She likes one of the candidate's stances on health care, but prefers the other's plans for getting the economy going again.
Jeremy Caverley has seen the highs and lows in life. He is a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard and now a full-time student. He has been homeless and used up all 99 weeks of unemployment assistance.
"I still have a single e-mail account that has over 1,000 jobs applied for in that 99 weeks. I didn't find a job," he said.
His wife has been diagnosed with Chrone's Disease and requires shots that cost nearly $10,000. He's backing Romney.
"When Romney would bring up a fact Obama seemed to have a harder time to respond," he said.
Everyone in the group said they would watch the next couple of debates.
Matt Bruning report #1
Matt Bruning report #2