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Post-Debate Swing-State Snapshots

ANDREA SEABROOK, host:

From NPR News, It's All Things Considered. I'm Andrea Seabrook. From a playground in Colorado to a college football game in Ohio, to a Home Depot in Virginia, everybody, it seems, is talking about last night's debate. We sent reporters out to three states that will be crucial in the November election, and they brought back these swing state snapshots.

ALLISON KEYES: I'm Allison Keyes in Northern Virginia at that bastion of commonality, a Home Depot. Many out shopping this morning watched the debate intently. Most didn't see a clear winner, and while none of them heard anything to change their minds, people like Earnest Gaskins (ph) were struck by the demeanor of the candidates.

Mr. EARNEST GASKINS: I am for Obama, but at the same token, I felt like some views that McCain had, he was very condescending.

Mr. CHRISTIAN PETRITICH: I thought Senator Obama would end up being the clear winner, but I thought McCain did very, very well.

KEYES : Christian Petritich(ph) was at Home Depot with his four-year-old son, Aden, and says he's a long time Republican who will likely vote that way in November. A key factor for him is McCain's bipartisan appeal.

Mr. PETRITICH: The Democrats tend to want to fight their own battle and say the Republicans aren't doing a good job, and it seemed like McCain is kind of trying to work with both parties to make things happen.

KEYES: Ben Stag (ph) and Cathy Hudson (ph) have a biker for McCain sticker on the back of their jeep. Stag says McCain has the experience, even if the economy is the Republican's weak suit.

Mr. BEN STAG: He needs to know the economy. He doesn't need to be an expert on it. It's like in my job. I have people that work for me, and they're much smarter than me. OK.

KEYES: Angela Clayton (ph) of Fairfax says there was absolutely a winner last night.

Ms. ANGELA CLAYTON: I would say Barack Obama.

KEYES: But Clayton worries that some voters seem to be choosing their candidate along racial lines, when people should be trying to put the person in the White House who will look out for the nation's best interest. Allison Keyes, NPR News.

KIRK SIEGLER: I'm Kirk Siegler at Washington Park in Denver where, under a bright blue sky, kids are scaling the jungle gym and soaring on the swings. Last night's debate was watched closely in this swing state, Colorado.

Mr. SCOTT VISTED: He goes right down to bed every night, right down...

SIEGLER: Scott Visted (ph), who works as financial adviser for Merrill Lynch, is pushing his daughter on the swings.

Mr. VISTED: I would generally say a draw. I think McCain showed his experience. I think Obama showed a little bit more personality.

SIEGLER: Visted and his wife, Valerie, planned to vote for McCain because of his foreign policy experience.

Ms. VALERIE VISTED: And I think that that was a highlight for me. I think it's really important that we do have a commander in chief who has dynamic international experience.

SIEGLER: Their minds were already made up before the debate, as was Dana McKovsky's(ph), who watched as her daughter had a go on sliding board.

Ms. DANA MCKOVSKY: Yeah, you know, eight years ago, I thought McCain was a pretty cool guy, but I really think that he has changed.

SIEGLER: Nearby, Kirney Daniel(ph) says she was put off by McCain's lack of eye contact with the camera or his opponent.

Ms. KIRNEY DANIEL: I thought that was very odd because I thought it was - Obama was good in that point, that he spoke to the audience when McCain didn't.

SIEGLER: Daniel is an independent in a state where independents outnumbered Democrats or Republicans. She says she's still undecided, even after watching last night's debate. For NPR News, I'm Kirk Siegler in Denver.

M.L. SCHULTZE: I'm M.L. Schultze at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio. If this were a clearer day, we'd literally be in the shadows of the pro football hall of fame. Many of those coming to the small college match up of Walsh and Quincy Universities already got their dose of football for the weekend with Friday night high school match ups that draw 10 even 15,000 fans.

That meant a lot of them weren't home watching the presidential debate, but Canton is also in a key swing county in a key swing state, and that makes the November 4th election a topic of interest for those who watched the debate, and those who didn't.

Ms. JENNIFER OLLBRACK : I was leaning Obama. I'm a teacher, and our National Education Association is really backing Barack Obama. I'm probably still leaning in that way as well, but I just think right now it's, you know, everything that's going on in our economy and with the stock market and the price of everything, I mean, it's just - it's scary, and I don't feel convinced that either one is going to be completely capable to handle all those situations.

Ms. HELEN SHAEFER: I've always been a Republican, so I'm just kind of on the fence.

SCHULTZE: There's no chance you won't vote at all, is there?

Ms. SHAEFER: Well, I had thought about that, and then I thought, I can't do that. I've always voted.

SCHULTZE: How many years is always? If that's not too impolite to ask?

Ms. SHAEFER: Well, I'm pretty old, so it's been a lot of years.

Ms. LINDA NAFF: It made me even feel more strongly about Obama.

SCHULTZE: Why?

Ms. LINDA NAF: I just, you know, I don't agree with the economic package that they've had the last few years, and I don't know - I just think he's the man, but we'll cancel each other out.

SCHULTZE: You are for McCain?

Mr. BOB NAFF: Yes.

SCHULTZE: Why?

Mr. BOB NAFF: Because I don't like Obama.

Ms. LINDA NAFF: And I do like him.

SCHULTZE: What do you like about him?

Ms. LINDA NAFF: I think he's a fresh face. I like what he has to say. Actually, I was Hillary, but now I'm Obama.

Mr. BOB NAFF: Well, Ron Paul should be running , but he's not running, so I'm voting for McCain.

SEABROOK: The voices of Linda and Bob Naff, Helen Shaefer (ph), and Jennifer Ollbrack (ph) brought to us by reporter M.L. Schultze of WKSU in Canton, Ohio. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Morning EditionAll Things Considered
Kirk Siegler
As a correspondent on NPR's national desk, Kirk Siegler covers rural life, culture and politics from his base in Boise, Idaho.
M.L. Schultze came to WKSU as news director in July 2007 after 25 years at The Repository in Canton, where she was managing editor for nearly a decade. She’s now the digital editor and an award-winning reporter and analyst who has appeared on NPR, Here and Now and the TakeAway, as well as being a regular panelist on Ideas, the WVIZ public television's reporter roundtable.
Allison Keyes is an award-winning journalist with almost 20 years of experience in print, radio, and television. She has been reporting for NPR's national desk since October 2005. Her reports can be heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition Sunday.