By Stephen Witt
A packed working-class crowd at the Rustik Neighborhood Tavern stayed glued to the four giant televisions as if it were Super Bowl Sunday and all agreed that President Obama bested Mitt Romney in the second of three presidential debates – some by a knockout and others by decision.
Cheers and jeers erupted intermittently at the eatery and watering hole located at 471 DeKalb Avenue as patrons watched the two candidates verbally spar on such issues as the economy, job creation, taxes, energy and foreign policy.
“I thought it was a good debate for President Obama,” said Tiffany M., 25, after the lively discussion ended. “He had a lot to prove coming out of the last debate and he was confident and responsive.”
Tiffany, who is originally from Washington DC, acknowledged that the current shaky economy has made it somewhat hard to get a footing in the city’s job market, but still believed Obama was best suited to see the country through the tough times. “I’ve been underemployed as a recent college grad, but now I work for the city,” she said.
Rustik Neighborhood Tavern owner Frantz Metellus said that while both Obama and Romney gave their views on giving small businesses tax breaks, he would be happier with breaks on his utility bills and for installing green energy.
“My gas and light bills are way more than my payroll taxes,” said Metellus, who opened the tavern in 2008 right before the economic meltdown and has 15 employees.
Metellus said the debates have been good for business, particularly because they take place earlier in the week (Tuesday and Wednesday), which are normally slower days in the bar/food industry.
“I think Obama did much better this time,” he said. “The standard for the president is so high. I was looking for some passion and he showed he was still passionate for the job. He also called Romney on the carpet when he lies. Romney also showed he was an amateur when it comes to foreign policy.”
Rustik Neighborhood Tavern manager Soeurette Ligonde, 38, said Obama really picked up his game for the second debate in addressing the issues and illustrating the facts.
“This is my Super Bowl. It’s great for business and in a very nice setting,” she said, adding that the downturn in the economy has been hard and that she has a second union job with Verizon.
“Unions are the basis of the country and the standard bearer for everything we have from fair wages to child labor laws to minimum wages,” she said.
But for firefighter Kobie Dixon, 36, who works out of Engine Company 210 in Fort Greene, the debate was politics as usual.
“Mitt Romney danced around the issues a lot while President Obama stuck to the script. It’s a matter of choosing between the lesser of two evils,” he said.
By Stephen Witt