Local political parties react to Republican debate

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — As the first of the presidential candidate debates wraps up, both parties are looking at the long road ahead. Both the El Paso County Democrats and the El Paso County Republicans said they weren’t sure what to expect Thursday night, but were hopeful the conversations would remain civil.

“I think it’s going to be a huge surprise as usual,” said Christy LeLait, Executive Director of the El Paso County Democratic Party. “I would love to see the candidates not be so hateful. That might be good.”

“I would like to think that we have learned from past experiences, and again not only Republicans but Democrats as well,” said Sandra Bankes, Vice Chair of the El Paso County Republicans. “What is the goal? The goal is to find the best person to lead our country and so when you get up on stage you’re really showing your character, I think.”

The Republican party has been criticized for the large number of candidates they’re bringing to the table.

“There’s so many people running and so many of them have not done anything in awhile and it’s just a sideshow. It really is,” said LeLait.

But Republicans said it just gives voters more options.

“We’re going to see a lot of candidates that present themselves in a variety of ways that allows the voter to decide ‘hmm, this is somebody that I need to pay more attention to, or this is a person that hmm, no, I’m not so sure about,'” said Bankes.

One name that has stood out above the rest is frontrunner Donald Trump.

“I think that Trump is speaking his mind without a filter and that attracts people, because so many folks look at politicians and say ‘hmm not so sure,’ but when they hear Trump, he speaks to them and he speaks to them in a way that they understand,” said Bankes.

“That’s what’s scary to me. He’s in the lead and he says hurtful, hateful, nasty things and people are cheering that and that’s scary to me,” said LeLait. “I don’ think that’s who we are as Americans.”

Regardless of who comes out on top in the first debate, it all comes down to who stays on top, and that’s something only the American people can decide.

Both sides agree it’s important for all of America to get involved.

“We encourage everyone to get involved with their party, find out what’s happening, find a candidate you can support and who supports your values,” said LeLait.

“Whatever candidate, whatever party, they all come with their perception of what’s needed and then it’s through this political process that if we speak up, if we volunteer and we make our wishes known, we get to help shape what kind of candidate they’re going to be,” said Bankes.

The Democrats announced Thursday that they will be holding six debates, including four ahead of the February 1 Iowa Caucuses. Their first debate will be held October 13 in Nevada.

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