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Washington County residents' reactions to who won presidential debate were along party lines

October 17, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • In this Oct. 16 file photo, President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, exchange views during the second presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.
By The Associated Press

Reports of social security benefits increasing at the beginning of 2013 were shoved aside Tesday night in the second presidential debate between Preisdent Obama and challenger Mitt Romney, but that did not stop it from being a relevant topic to many area residents Wednesday.

“Social Security is very important to a lot of people,” Al Hudak, 61, of Hagerstown, said. “It is an entitlement and a tough issue, but it’s time that Congress step up and deal with it.”

Social Security payments are expected to rise about 1.7 percent on average at the start of the new year.

Hudak’s wife, Elizabeth, also 61, said that she thinks some people who do not need social security should actually have their benefits cut so people who need them can receive more, adding that she would be willing to sacrifice her payments when she begins to receive it.

“We’ve worked a long time to earn the right to receive Social Security, but we’ve been fortunate enough to have a pension,” she said. “The issue of shared sacrifice is a concern of mine. Too many people think about what they deserve for themselves.”

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The pay increase will average out to $19 a month.

Boonsboro resident Bob Sweeney, 73, said he thinks the benefits are just part of the “game” being played by the Obama Administration.

“They brag about the tax cuts they’ve given everybody, but all that money came out in Social Security because they cut the payroll tax, not the income tax,” he said. “For them to say that they’re big on Social Security and Medicare when they cut $700 billion out of Medicare and billions out of Social Security is totally disingenuous.”

Christine Stoops, 65, also of Boonsboro, added that she does not think the increase matters.

“Nineteen dollars does not make that much difference,” she said. “I don’t think the country can depend on Social Security. It should be part of what you plan on but not what you can depend on.”

Stoops and Sweeney both said they are supporting Romney, while the Hudaks said they are supporting Obama, and their reactions to who won the second presidential debate, which was held Tuesday at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., were along party lines.

Elizabeth Hudak said that she thought Obama did a better job discussing his record.

“He spoke about all the things the administration has accomplished over the last few years,” she said. “I found Romney a bit more vague.”

Her husband, Al, said he thought Obama definitely won.

“He gave a great performance and brought out all the facts of what he’s done the last four years,” he said. “He made it clear he’s about the middle class.”

Sweeney, however, said he thought Romney won “hands down.”

“Obama is trying to create a smoke screen because he has no record to run on, and he is driving this country crazy with class warfare,” he said. “Romney’s dealing with the facts and has the experience to address the issues whereas Obama is dealing with a Socialist dream.”

Stoops added that she thought Obama did much better than the last debate but Romney still won.

“(Romney’s) able to think and project himself, but he doesn’t seem flustered,” she said. “He’s a very competent guy.”

Hagerstown resident Rowland Hall, 50, said that he thinks Obama won the debate because Romney continues to show himself to be out of touch.

“Mitt Romney doesn’t get it,” he said. “Obama handled himself very well in the debate. He took over and stood up for the people.”

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