As published in the Record Journal, Friday October 5, 2012
WALLINGFORD — The airwaves Thursday morning were full of pundits and politicians discussing the first debate between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney, and town residents had a chance to hear a familiar face weigh in on the contest.
Democratic Town Councilor Jason Zandri appeared on “CNN Newsroom” with anchor Carol Costello, discussing his own take on the debate and the feeling of the 80 to 90 people who attended a public debate watch party he organized at Zandri’s Stillwood Inn, his family’s banquet facility.
“Voters were there, they were watching Obama, and some people say he appeared rather lifeless, so what was their reaction to his performance?” Costello asked.
“I think a lot of the people that were in attendance, they were set to see a full-on charge by President Obama and I think they were a little bit surprised at how strongly candidate Romney came out,” Zandri said.
Republican State Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr., a town resident, said he believed the strong debate performance would help Romney in the polls.
“I think we’ll see a swing that puts Gov. Romney in the lead nationally and trailing by single digits in Connecticut,” he said.
Polls by Quinnipiac University this week showed Obama leading Romney 49 percent to 45 percent among likely voters nationwide and 54 percent to 42 percent in Connecticut.
“I think Romney did well,” said Republican Town Chairman Robert Prentice, a Romney backer who watched the debate from home. “I think anytime there was a statement he thought was incorrect, he came back quickly. I liked the fact that he wasn’t getting pushed around.”
But Zandri, an Obama supporter, said that even if the president didn’t perform as well as Romney, with the election a month away, most voters have made up their minds, though there are still a small number of undecided voters up for grabs.
“I think, with these debates, the people are already set in who they’re going to vote for,” he said. “They’re there trying to solidify the reason they picked their candidate.”
Zandri’s advice for Obama was to “double down on what he’s already good at, take this as a learning lesson and keep moving forward.”
Taping at CNN’s Manhattan studio at Columbus Circle wasn’t difficult for Zandri, who works at Bloomberg, about six blocks away. The show’s staff found him through the debate watch party, which he organized online.
The appearance lasted about two minutes, but Zandri spent substantially more time preparing, putting on makeup and getting ready for the segment, which started at about 9:40 a.m.
“I was a little bit nervous,” he said. “I think the biggest thing I did prior to this was a little interview on News Channel 8.”
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Jason Zandri talks with CNN’s Carol Costello Thursday about the presidential debate.