MT. PLEASANT — As presidential nominees Donald Trump and Joe Biden faced off in the first debate of the 2020 election cycle on Tuesday, the Henry County Republicans gathered at their headquarters in Mt. Pleasant for a watch party.
About 10 local party members enjoyed pie, cookies and popcorn while sitting in lawn chairs as they watched the debate, projected onto a wall of the office space on Jefferson Street, laughing and cheering in support of the current president.
The county’s committee chairman Trent Hobbs said watch parties and other similar events “let other people know there are others out there,” who have similar views.
“We get a little camaraderie and fellowship and good information. This debate tonight is going to tell us a lot about where each person stands,” Hobbs said.
The chairman went on to say he felt members of the Republican Party have “been the silent majority.”
“At this point, we’re done being silent. It’s time to let people know that there are other people like them, that they can say they are a Trump supporter and not have to whisper it in the hallway or something,” Hobbs added.
Going into the debate, the chairman anticipated the event to be “more of a comedy show” than an actual discussion of issues. Still, Hobbs said he was interested in hearing how the candidates would fare when going “head-to-head.”
Roy Gilleard, a longtime Mt. Pleasant resident and party member said he wanted to “catch Biden in lies.” The Trump supporter said he felt the former Vice President has “not done anything for the United States in the 47 years” he has held public office.
Gilleard added he feared what the country would become should the Democratic Party take the White House in November.
“We’ll be like Cuba. The socialists will take over. The country will be unrecognizable,” he said.
Other attendees, including Mary Zachmeyer, who staff’s the party’s headquarters throughout the week, and Rick Van Sickle, co-chairman of the committee, said they will continue to support Trump on the basis of abortion.
“I just can’t agree with killing babies. I will never vote for a party that could do that,” Van Sickle said.
As the debate began, the group often offered commentary to each other on issues they disagreed with, questioned the ability of moderator Chris Wallace and repeated “Come on, man,” as a mimic of Biden.
When the watch party came to an end, Zachmeyer, who helped organize the event, said she enjoyed the watch party and felt everyone who attended had a good time.
“I love these people. Republicans are very talkative and friendly, honest, happy people,” she said.
As for the debate, she said she felt “disappointed,” specifically with how the moderator handled the nominees and interruptions.
Hobbs said he felt the debate went as he expected.
“It was humorous at times,” the committee chairman said.
Hobbs added he felt “Trump came out ahead” and the debate was favorable for the Republican nominee.
“At least [Trump] knew what he’s done for the past four years. We all know what he’s done for the past four years and he’s right. If Obama and Biden could have done that, why couldn’t they?” Hobbs said.