Scene at the Las Vegas debate watch party
LAS VEGAS, Nevada — If I learned anything from watching last night’s presidential debate in a room full of Mitt Romney supporters, it’s that President Obama cannot speak English, wanted Americans in Benghazi to die, hopes America will be taken over by the Islamic world, carries a literal Communist Party card, and should be sent back to Mexico.
These were among the accusations flying at a Romney debate watch party Tuesday night in southeast Las Vegas, where approximately 75 Nevadans crowded into a small room to watch the debate and trade jabs at Obama.
Surprisingly, one gentleman I spoke with before the debate was less than sanguine about Romney’s prospects in the election. He didn’t cite the improving economy, or Obama’s foreign policy successes, but rather “all those people collecting welfare checks have a vested interest.”
Scattered boos were heard when Obama took the stage for the debate, but the murmurs grew to shouts as soon as he began. “He doesn’t speak English!” one woman in the audience yelled when Obama first responded to a question.
Nearly every time Obama spoke thereafter, jeers erupted. People groaned when he made debatable claims, like the cost of Romney’s tax plan. People groaned at undeniable facts, like when Obama mentioned that “Osama bin Laden is dead” and that immigrants “start companies like Intel.” People groaned at inexplicable moments, like when the president said “we need to create jobs here” and after he mentioned that he “was raised by a single mom.” (One onlooker even took issue with Obama making as banal a statement as his mother “worked hard.” “No she didn’t!” the woman responded.)
At times, their anger turned to the audience, who supposedly contained “Democratic plants”, and to the host, CNN’s Candy Crowley. “Boy, she’s really gotten on,” one man said of Crowley in the middle of the debate. “Oh, she’s gotten ugly,” another agreed.
As the debate entered its final third and it became increasingly clear that this debate would not be a repeat of Denver’s, debate watchers became even more brazen in their taunts. “Let’s cook Big Bird!” one man yelled after Obama said that Romney hadn’t “mentioned any specifics except Big Bird.” When the discussion turned to the four Americans who were recently killed in Benghazi, a man nearby said that Obama “wanted them dead.” “They were ordered not to have loaded weapons,” he said, parroting a widely debunked claim.
Finally, when Obama and Romney discussed the Assault Weapons Ban — described by multiple people sitting nearby as “socialism” — one audience member scoffed when the president proclaimed his respect for the 2nd Amendment. “Tomorrow we run to the gun store,” he said, worried that firearms would soon be banned. When Romney brought up the Fast & Furious operation, one woman couldn’t help herself: “send him to Mexico!” she yelled, referring to the president.
It wasn’t until after the debate ended that the room hit peak-conspiracy theory.
“Did you notice the Muslim Islamic marriage inscription on Obama’s wedding ring?” a woman nearby asked me. I said I hadn’t. “He’s got an Islamic wedding ring that he got when he turned 16 from the head of the Islamic church,” she explained. “Michelle doesn’t have that because she’s not Muslim but he is.”
Why does he hide his supposed-faith, I asked. “He wants America to go broke, because he doesn’t want America to succeed. He wants America to be taken over by the Islamic world,” she told me.
The conversation then turned to Obama’s family. “Did you know his grandmother, his mother, Michelle, and him are all card-carrying members of the Communist Party?” she asked. “We’ve got copies of their cards and the numbers,” offering to email a scanned copy when I expressed skepticism.
“You haven’t done much research on Obama,” the woman told me. I asked what websites I could visit to learn more; she recommend WND.com, a birther-haven whose editor-in-chief has blamed natural disasters on the growing acceptance of homosexuality.