WESTERVILLE, Ohio – Several groups of protesters and supporters of various candidates descended upon Otterbein University in Westerville for the Democratic Debate Tuesday. People began to gather before noon and the loud crowds grew throughout the day.
“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime to hear in person the answers from the candidates and the responses from candidate to candidate. I look forward to the interesting strategy of attacking whoever is ahead in the polls,” said O’Brien.
Blair commented, “It’s exciting to be here and watch them. I’m particularly interested in the issues affecting Ohioans. The Lordstown plant that is currently idle is in my district, so I’d like to know what their solutions are for Ohioans facing job loss.”
A group of Trump-supporting students were sitting on their porch, watching the passers-by. Several were Otterbein football players who wanted to give their opinions about the event.
“No matter what side you’re on, Democrat or Republican, it’s a big publicity thing. It’s an attention grabber for Otterbein and I think that’s good,” noted one of the co-eds.
Colton Miles mentioned, “It definitely created a lot of chaos. If they could have coordinated earlier, it would have been better for the football team [who were forced out of the Rike Center and could not work out]. Overall it’s a good thing.”
The consensus was the debate was a positive for the campus. Alex Heflin did express frustration that students and faculty didn’t have more access. “If you’re going to have a debate at a university, I wish there could be a student section, let more students in.”
Signs for Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden were most prevalent. Beto had a handful of supporters, as did Kamala Harris. Rini Das of Columbus told The Ohio Star why she’s supporting Harris: “She’s relatable and she’ll get the job done.”
A small group but vocal group supported Andrew Yang, who also had several trucks with signs drive by, and Tulsi Gabbard had a few signs there as well. Elizabeth Warren, leading in two polls, had very few supporters visible in the northeastern Franklin County suburb.
The loudest contingent was the SEIU (Service Employees International Union), whose supporters wore shirts that proclaimed, “Unions for All.” One by-stander remarked that they were, “Good little Marxists.”
Pro-life groups could be found at nearly every intersection in Westerville, holding up pictures of aborted babies and challenging the democratic supporters on issues such as killing babies who survive abortion and aborting babies who are full term.
A group of democrats were protesting their own candidates. Democrats who support charter schools had a large contingent of minority community members holding signs, demanding to be heard.
Dr. Howard Fuller took time to speak to The Ohio Star about why they were there.
“We don’t think anyone can be ‘progressive’ while denying the right of black and brown families to have the right of self-determination. This turns the whole idea of progressivism upside down,” Fuller proclaimed.
Some residents gave their two-cents about the event. One woman who preferred not to be named said, “Well, I’m ‘day drinking’ if that tells you anything.” It was around 4:00 PM.
Her friend exclaimed, “I’m getting some good entertainment. I’m not interested in the debate at all. There are too many candidates right now.”
President Trump had his supporters as well. Dozens and dozens of pro-Trump shirts, hats, signs and flags could be seen. They shouted their pro-Trump chants and paraded peacefully, up and down the streets.
Ohio Strong Action, the Westerville Tea Party, and Trump groups from all around Ohio made themselves heard. Ohio Strong Action even shared a live video.
A Knox County couple, John and Diane Holley, made the trip and were decked out in Trump gear. When asked why Trump supporters would come to the Democratic Debate in Westerville, John responded, “One, to show support for the President. Let’s face it, the Dem debate is a pre-orchestrated theatrical show.”
His wife Diane added, “We’re also here to raise peoples’ spirits because of all the negative news about Trump, and we’re here to show he has a lot of support in spite of what they see on the news.”
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