Small Crowd Gathers at Hollywood Bar to Watch GOP Debate

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You may not think of political debates as a spectator sport; but GOP fans gathered in a Hollywood bar Wednesday night, beers in hand, to watch the Simi Valley debate on a big screen TV. KPCC's Special Correspondent Kitty Felde spoke with some of the debate watchers.

Kitty Felde: It seemed like a good idea: invite political junkies to meet at the Cinespace bar to watch the last GOP debate before the California primary. Unfortunately, the reporters outnumbered the laymen in the room, and several of them admitted their reasons for dropping by had nothing to do with politics. Mike Breiburg and a buddy were noshing on quesadillas and nursing their beers.

Mike Breiburg: We have some time to kill. We're seeing a movie at the Chinese Theatre. It's a screening.

Felde: Walter Gaws is a comedy writer who's performing at the bar Thursday night. He admits his motives weren't entirely election related.

Walter Gaws: I want to be politically involved, so I want to see both debates, make my choice. Plus, it'll give me a chance to, you know, meet people here and tell them about my Thursday night show.

Felde: But there were some true politicos. Lori Uebersax is a high school teacher. She brought research material about her favorite candidate, John McCain.

Lori Uebersax: I like the fact that he reaches out, not 'cause he's a maverick, but he reaches out, tries to connect with the other party, and to me seems practical in what he's doing.
Felde: Let me come back to the debate: is John McCain doing anything to surprise you? Is this more of the same of what you've seen so far?
Uebersax: I think it's pretty much the same of what I've seen. My one worry about him is, while I think his story is really compelling, I don't think his delivery is necessary.

So I wish McCain had a little more, you know, oomph, and was able to articulate his perfectly good stances with more eloquence, because it's the Obama factor, and people are swayed by that oratorial excellence.

Felde: Sherry Lynne is a faithful Republican. She went to church with the Reagans. She says she could support either Romney or McCain, and she rather likes the Arizona Senator's speaking style.

Sherry Lynne: It's not what he says, it's how he says it. He's a calm person. He's thinking, and yet he's very clear on how he feels.

Romney tends to be a tad defensive. Huckabee is a sincere person as well, but I don't think it's worth discussing him, only because, clearly, the general public, they're not going for him.

Felde: Of the dozen or so people who showed up at the event, fewer than half were registered Republicans. Some were "decline to state" voters who, because of GOP state party rules, will be unable to vote in the primary for a Republican candidate. But a number of debate watchers aren't registered at all. They say they just never got around to it.