Republican and Democrats at debate watch parties pick favorites

A big crowd attended a watch party for the first Republican presidential primary debate, as the San Francisco Republican Party hosted a watch party at Kezar Pub in San Francisco Wednesday night.

Some saw it as a chance to learn about the eight Republican candidates on stage who are challenging the front-runner, former President Donald Trump who did not participate.

"President Trump is in a strong commanding position, but there are a lot of people who are not fans of his, and I think what we want to see here out of the debate tonight to find out where we are," said John Dennis, Chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party.

Some said the debate did not change their support for Trump in the Republican primary.

"Someone asked me who do you like here? I said President Trump....they're just competing for who is going to be the vice-president," said Jacob Spangler, president of the College Republicans at San Francisco State University.

"I am a supporter of Donald Trump. I also like Desantis," said Terry Chong of San Francisco.

Others said they voted for Trump before, but are looking for a fresh start and support other candidates.

"A lot of people are split. Of course, you have the people who support Donald Trump, but there are also people here looking for change," said Bruce Lou, a San Francisco GOP congressional candidate.

"I like Ramaswamy because he fights. He fights for things people my age care about," said Chris Rahn of San Francisco, "I suppose I would support Ramaswamy if that was an option over Trump."


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"For me, it would be between the two," said Lisa Remmer of San Francisco, who says she supports both Trump and Ramaswamy, "We'll see how things fall out with Trump and all these cases."

Across town, at Manny's in the Mission District, a largely left-leaning crowd also gathered for a watch party. 

At one point, there were big cheers for Nikki Haley who had sharp criticism for Trump and Republican congressional members on stage, saying they added to the nation's deficit and should share the blame with Democrats.

"She is the one woman there and to stake such a strong position and not back down, I was impressed," said Precious Green, an Oakland Democrat.

Back at the GOP watch party, organizers conducted a quick straw poll after the debate ended.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Vice-President Mike Pence, who both voiced sharp criticism of Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, were met with booing and jeers. 

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy received the most cheers and applause, along with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former North Carolina Gov. and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.

The SF Republican Party said they plan to hold another watch party for the next debate. That event is scheduled for Sept. 27 at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley.