Last night more than 80 million Americans turned on their televisions and other devices to watch Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump debate at Hofstra University.
At Clinton’s campaign field office in Sterling, a group of Democrats gathered around sodas, chips and a projector screen to watch their candidate spar with Trump. Just a few miles away, the Loudoun County Young Republicans (YR) gathered to cheer on their candidate in front of a home television set.
The Tribune had a reporter at each site, recording the reactions of supporters to one of the most highly anticipated debates in American presidential history.
8:45 p.m – There’s both Coke and Pepsi at the Democrats’ event. “We truly are the party for everyone”, a Clinton supporter says.
8:54 – Trump supporters settle in around the television set, several wearing “Make America Great Again” shirts.
9:00 – “He’s wearing blue and she’s wearing red. Blue’s a more soothing color though so that was a good idea on his part. Red will just make her look angry,” says a Trump supporter.
9:06 – The debate begins with loud cheers from both crowds gathered in Sterling.
9:08 – Following Clinton’s opening about how to create high-paying jobs, Trump answers the same question talking about how America is losing jobs. This draws the first of many chuckles from Clinton supporters.
9:12 – One Trump supporter says to another “She’s already lied. She’s worse than Obama for me.”
9:13 – Clinton introduces the nation to “Trumped Up Trickle Down” economics, a jab at Trump against his taxation plans. Clinton supporters love the first big shot of the evening.
9:13 – Clinton’s “Trumped Up Trickle Down” jab is met by silence by the YR audience. “Well that fell flat,” one Trump supporter says.
9:19 – Trump denies Clinton’s claim that he said global warming was a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese. Then Clinton’s campaign retweets Trump’s 2012 comment that “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
9:24 – “Well Donald, I know you live in your own reality” Clinton says to Trump, much to the delight of her supporters.
9:28 – Incredulous shouts from the Clinton supporters when Trump says Clinton has been fighting ISIS her entire life.
9:29 – Clinton jokes that by the end of the night she’ll be blamed for everything. One Trump supporter says “well if you’ve been in Washington 30 years…”
9:34 – Trump says he’s been under audit for almost 15 years. “It’s because you’re a crook,” a Clinton supporter says.
9:35 – As Clinton talks about Trump paying federal taxes and its impacts on troops and veterans, one Trump supporter says to Clinton on the screen “What about how you messed up Benghazi?”
9:36 – Clinton supporters are miffed when Trump says he’ll release his tax returns when Clinton releases the 33,000-plus emails she says were deleted. Trump supports applaud.
9:37 – Clinton refers to the email scandal as a mistake. Trump supporters scoff. One says “She’s incompetent!” Another says “I’d be in jail for that.”
9:40 – When talking about his income, Trump says he doesn’t mean to do it in a braggadocios way. “Trump learned a new word,” says a Clinton supporter.
9:57 – Loud laughs from Clinton supporters when Trump says the NRA “are very, very good people”.
10:01 – Trump defends his position on whether or not Barack Obama was born in America, and a supporter remarks that Clinton started the rumor about Obama years ago.
10:05 – Clinton begins to quote Michelle Obama and supporters in Sterling recite the words in unison: “when they go low, we go high”.
10:18 – Trump supporters start to leave the watch party. One says “I can’t stand to listen to her for 15 more minutes.”
10:19 – Trump’s comment that “I haven’t given lots of thought to NATO” elicits jokes from Clinton supporters.
10:25 – Near debate’s end, Clinton supporters still go after Trump. “Shut him off!” one shouts.
10:30 – “Is this for real?” a Clinton supports asks allowed as Trump makes final comments.
10:40 – With the debate over, Democrats begin talking about going to Oct. 4 Vice Presidential Debate in Farmville, Va.
10:51 – Clinton supporters head to the parking lot in high spirits. A supporter says aloud to herself “great night, great night”. The YR group leaves too, more quietly.