For the 20 or so Republican women who gathered Thursday night to watch the vice presidential debate, the event was all about rooting for their candidate – and having some laughs while they were at it. Actually, a lot of laughs.
The women, who met at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites on Boardwalk and graciously allowed The Chronicle to join them, enthusiastically supported Sarah Palin while gleefully deriding her Democratic opponent, Joe Biden.
The banter began from the moment Biden started speaking, when he turned to Palin and said what a pleasure it was to meet her.
“In your dreams!” someone hooted.
At minimum Palin’s responses were met with nods of approval, often with applause and shouts of “Get him, Sarah!” or “You go, girl!” Biden’s comments were usually mocked – “Is he for real?” or “He’s a liar!” And they were decidedly unsympathetic when he got emotional, tearing up during one of his responses. That evoked laughter and more banter: “Oh my God – he’s gonna cry! and “He did the choking thing!”
Even a verbal slip by Palin – once referring to her opponent as “O’Biden” – met with support. “O’Biden – I like that!” someone quipped.
Mel Gable, who’s chair of the Washtenaw County Board of Canvassers, provided much of the comic relief during the debate, calling Biden a “gaffe machine” and challenging his responses.
Applause often came in response to Palin’s positions that clearly resonated with the group, including the need to lower taxes, regulate Wall Street, rein in government spending and support a strong national defense.
Several women said it was great to get together with like-minded people, where you could be candid about your political views without being smacked down by angry liberals. And not everyone who attended was Republican. Claudette Cornell said she has been an Independent, but supports the McCain/Palin ticket. She was impressed with Palin’s performance during the debate.
“I thought that she was very well-prepared, and well-informed about critical issues,” Cornell said. “She spoke to the heart of middle America, as well as to America at large.”
Kim Porter-Hoppe, chair of the local Republican Women’s Club and of the statewide Alliance of Black Republicans, organized the event, which began with dinner at the hotel restaurant. Afterward, she said it was a good debate for Palin. “She did a great job – I’m even more excited now.”