Biden had a bad night


That gasp from Chicago bar patrons when President Joe Biden stumbled verbally for the first time during his debate with Donald Trump resonated with many Americans on Thursday night.

At festivals, bars, bowling alleys and other venues across the country where people gathered to watch games, Trump supporters, while elated, and Biden supporters, despite their unease if not fear, seemed to largely agree that they were witnessing an unequal contest.

At the end of more than 90 minutes, some Democrats were saying what partisans say to make the best of the situation: It’s early. One debate won’t necessarily sway the nation. Judge him by what he’s done and wants to do, not what he says.

But many were disappointed.

” READ MORE: Biden’s Age Concerns, Trump’s Trouble Responding to Conviction and Other First Debate Highlights

Biden “just didn’t have that spark that we needed tonight,” Rosemarie DeAngelus, a Democrat from South Portland, Maine, said during her reception at the Broadway Bowl. Trump, she said, showed “more spark or vigor,” even if, in her opinion, he was telling a pack of lies.

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

“I have never seen Trump seem so coherent,” Miller said. “And I hate to say it, but Joe seemed a little off. But I still support him on Trump because Trump lied about every single thing that happened.”

” READ MORE: Who won the first presidential debate – Joe Biden or Donald Trump?

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

In McAllen, Texas, near the Mexican border, London’s Bar & Grill is typically clamorous on the day leading up to the weekend, but many patrons were tranquil as they watched the debate unfold on TV screens. Here, Biden supporters, Trump supporters and undecided voters mingled.

Among them, Vance Gonzales, 40, a moderate Democrat, said the debate convinced him that “frankly, we need another Democratic candidate because it’s not competitive.” He said of Biden: “He is not right about anything. I think it’s disappointing.”

Marco Perez, 53, voted for Biden in the last election and expressed frustration with what he has heard and seen. “I want to hear more facts, more action, not more finger-pointing, more accusations or false accusations,” he said.

His friend Virginia Lopez, who was sitting with him, left still not knowing who she would be supporting in November. She heard caustic but unsatisfying responses from the Republican. “Trump just changes all his answers and just lies,” 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 distinctive patron as he listened intently to the debate. Although he was a Democrat for several years, he changed parties under Republican Ronald Reagan.

Mercado heard Biden accuse Trump of making demeaning comments about veterans, but that didn’t affect his support for Trump. “Yes, he said some bad things about veterans at one point, early on,” he said of Trump. “But now he says, ‘No, I support veterans and I’ve never had any problems with him. I got a VA disability raise when Trump was president.”

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

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

Migrants, most of whom have been waiting for months to be nominated in the process, stared blankly at the screen as a Spanish-language version of the debate played, watching an American democratic ritual in motion.

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

At Hula Hula, a tiki bar in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, patrons cheered wildly when Trump mentioned their city — even when it came as the Republican complained about lawlessness. Biden supporter Amy Pottinger of Seattle said the Democratic president was at his best when Trump made him enraged.

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

At the same Chicago bar where patrons shouted down Biden’s missteps – the M Lounge in the South Loop – the president made this joke to Trump: “You have the morals of a street cat.”

“Wow!” the audience said.

But it was an evening of nervousness at the Democratic watchdog event in downtown Atlanta.

“I’m so nervous I feel like my baby is going on stage,” Georgia state senator Nikki Merritt said at the start, patting her stomach as if she had butterflies.

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

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

But it was impossible to ignore the man they called a madman.

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