Good sports watch games, debate

By Roxana Orellana

At some Austin watering holes Wednesday night, the Yankees and Red Sox trumped the muted images of President Bush and Sen. John Kerry. But at other venues, the presidential debate had people's undivided attention.

"They're all crooks and liars," said Alan Retterath said of politicians. "They don't back anything up or do anything for us."

His group of friends at Thirsty's, consisting of a half dozen people perhaps watching but not listening to the debate, described themselves as voters with all types of party affiliations.


Retterath said he was tired of candidates telling him what is wrong with the country and not showing any plans to fix it.

"I don't waste my time watching," Retterath added. "Why watch it?"

At the same bar, Keith Johnson said that if anyone were going to lead him, it would be Sen. Kerry. Johnson, a Vietnam veteran, said he has not always voted for the Democratic candidate, but this time he would.

"I think Kerry is more aware of the problems. He is very truthful, honest and forward," Johnson added.

At Sportts Restaurant in northwest Austin, the scene was a little different. The baseball game was still on, but about 35 people had gathered there specifically to watch -- and hear -- the last presidential debate.

The chairmen of both the Mower County DFL and Republican parties said their groups had chosen to watch the first two debates in their own homes, but decided to watch the third in public.

Geoff Baker, chairman of the Mower County Republican Party, attended the gathering and said Wednesday's debate was the best of the three presidential face-offs.

This year's elections are important for Minnesota, Baker said.


"Minnesota might just swing for a Republican president," Baker said.

Jokingly, Baker said he felt safe and wasn't harassed by his opponents while watching the debate. "I wasn't swayed," he said.

Although a few comments slipped from time to time as a reaction to the candidates' responses, the atmosphere remained polite and focused.

"I thought this one was one of the best (debates)," said Harry Stevens, former Mower County DFL chairman.

Mariya Sogrina, an exchange student from Ukraine who attended the gathering, said she was impressed with what she saw.

Although many in the group were Democrats, the gathering was organized as a nonpartisan event so as not to scare off undecided voters.

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