Locals watch presidential candidates debate
Staff and wire report
SALISBURY - There's no debate about local interest in tonight's face-off between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney. On college campuses and party headquarters, local groups will gather to watch as the first of three presidental election debates begins at 9 p.m. Rowan County Republicans are meeting at 6 p.m. to work and watch on the night of every presidential and vice-presidential debate, including tonight, said chair Greg Edds. Party members will make phone calls and then watch the debate together at the NC Victory Center, the party's headquarters at 116 S. Main St., Salisbury. Veleria Levy, chair of the Rowan County Democrats, said she plans to attend an event in the Hilliard Room of the Hood Building at Livingstone College, 701 W. Monroe St., Salisbury. The Rowan-Salisbury branch of the NAACP and the political science department of Livingstone College will host a presidential debate viewing and evaluation starting at 9 p.m. Audience members will have the chance to share their opinions on different parts of the debate. Dr. Michael Bitzer, political science and history professor at Catawba College, said he has assigned his two introductory classes to watch the debates and participate in a national study of reactions. Bitzer himself will be at WSOC, providing analysis on both the gubernatorial and the presidential debates for the TV station. The debate will be broadcast live on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News at 9 p.m. For the non-politicos, other programming available at that time includes "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" on E! And "Smokey and the Bandit" on CMT. The 90-minute Denver debate will be devoted to domestic policy, with the two men seated side by side in elevated director's chairs, according to the Associated Press. Romney and Obama debate again Oct. 16 in Hempstead, N.Y., and Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla. Vice President Joe Biden and Republican Paul Ryan have their lone debate Oct. 11 in Danville, Ky. Both Romney and Obama spent their time mostly in private on Tuesday, preparing for the debate, the president in Henderson, Nev., near Las Vegas, Romney already in Denver. Neither held public campaign events, but Obama took a break from preparation to visit nearby Hoover Dam, and Romney picked up lunch at a Chipotle Mexican Grill near his hotel. The debates, expected to draw a huge nationwide audience, takes place with most polls showing Obama slightly ahead both nationally and in the battleground states expected to settle the election.