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Undecided voters weigh in on Hofstra debate

Members of the audience, undecided voters as identified

Members of the audience, undecided voters as identified by Gallup, in their seats prior to the start of the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. (Oct. 16, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

Newsday watched the presidential debate with three Long Island voters who said they had not decided between President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney. Here are their impressions of Tuesday night's debate:



Age: 33

Residence: Huntington Station

Job: Local campaign director, Every Child Matters-Long Island, a nonprofit children's advocacy group

Family: Married with two children

Party affiliation: Registered Democrat

What are the key issues in the race?

"I'm always looking to see what they feel about children." She said she "leans toward" Obama's health care plan, but added she is unsure of either candidate's position on Medicare and Medicaid. "Last time, everything we seemed to feel were their positions on the issue seemed to be out the window."

Did either candidate get your vote?

No, she remains undecided. "I'm still waiting to see if they can somehow bring kids into it . . . What I'm waiting for them to talk about, they didn't talk about . . . I'm still waiting to hear them tell me their plan on children."


What did either say that meant the most to you?

Levin said it was Obama's comments on immigration reform. "The kids that are here already that feel that they are already Americans," she said. "Obama says that it's not their fault . . . whereas Romney just wants to send them back."


General comment: "I felt that it was a real debate, not just one person's ideas," she said. "Obama was able to [talk about] what he has done, and remind us what Romney's record is . . . Obama reminded us of his [Romney's] position on Planned Parenthood."




Age: 60

Residence: East Meadow

Job: Certified public accountant

Family: Married with two grown children

Party affiliation: Registered Conservative

What are the key issues in the race?

The economy and tax policy. Smith said he is progressive on social issues but a fiscal conservative, and he voted for Obama in 2008. "I'm undecided because I look around, look at the economy, look at all the unemployed people." He said he is concerned about the economy and that the country needs a president with a sensible tax policy. "I'm looking for somebody to have a tax policy that makes sense and that will help the middle class."

Did either candidate get your vote?

"I haven't made up my mind in that respect but I will say I was excited to see that our president was presidential. I was happy to see him do well. I wanted to see a good fight and I think we saw a good fight."


What did either say that meant the most to you?

"I don't know that coming into this was going to change my mind because I know where they stand. It reinforced what I thought about each candidate -- the lie or truth they tell -- but what was refreshing to see was the fact that Obama acted the way I think the president should act, and I think he clearly won this debate like I clearly thought that Romney won the first one. I think at the end of the day, when I add up all the X's, I'll probably end up voting for Obama."


General comment: "President Obama showed up. He didn't show up for the last one. If the way the first debate went would have went the same way this time, some of the positives I was thinking about Obama, I wouldn't have thought so highly of." Smith added, "The business community seems to really be behind Romney but I haven't seen anything concrete other than the fact that he says 'I've done it before, I can do it.' "



Age: 62

Residence: Uniondale

Job: Executive director for Uniondale Early Childcare Center

Family: Married with three grown children

Party affiliation: Registered Republican

What are the key issues in the race?

"My issues are with child care. No one has hit on that and they are just going around in circles," said Cameron, who voted for Obama in 2008. "I don't support abortion personally, but people should have a right to choose for themselves . . . And I'm truly concerned about Medicaid and the Social Security system . . . I don't like the road we're headed down."


Did either candidate get your vote?

Cameron has decided to vote for Obama. "I think he touched on the stuff that I wanted to hear like child care . . . All of us in this room have children . . . If the government doesn't continue to subsidize child care, our children are going to go in the ground."


What did either say that meant the most to you?

Referring to Obama, Cameron said, "The fact that I'm a child-care giver, I'm impressed by . . . when he said that he wants to train our young people in the 2-year programs."


General comment:"We need to continue to promote after-school programs . . . because a lot of our kids go home from school to an empty house." As for Romney, she said, "He wasn't factual again tonight and that's what I can't take. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt."


Reported by Lauren R. Harrison, Carl MacGowan and Candice Ruud


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