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Pizza, Green Drinks and Politics

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Pizza, Green Drinks and Politics

Voters in Indiana gathered to watch the second presidential debate last night. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Pizza and green drinks. Actually, the beverage of choice at a presidential debate watch party last night in Chesterton, Indiana, was beer. Green Drinks is the name of the group that hosted the debate watch party. They’re Northwest Indiana residents who get together once a month to talk environmental issues. Last night their monthly meeting also focused on politics, not unusual these days in a state that’s in play in the presidential race for the first time in decades.

Sue Eleuterio sat through a presentation on ways green technologies can help prevent flooding, a popular topic in these parts after recent heavy rains.

But lately the most popular topic is the presidential election. Even though Republicans have dominated here for 44 years.

But GOP nominee John McCain has a fight this time around. Recent polls show a tight race with Democrat Barack Obama, with a slight lead going to McCain.

Eleuterio has made up her mind. She’s going with Obama. But she watching the debate to see how he might come across to undecided Hoosiers.

ELEUTERIO: It’s interesting to me that when he talks specifics, the undecidedes seem to really respond to that. The Democrats have to make it clear that there are very specific plans for these major areas of concern which is obviously the economy, the war, jobs, the environment.

And, when the topic of the environment came up in the debate, the Green Drinkers were all ears.

TAPE FROM DEBATE: Q: I want to know what you would do in the first two years to make sure the country moves fast as far as environmental issues as far as climate change and green jobs?
McCAIN: We are in tough economic times...

Senator McCain’s answer to that question got less than positive reviews.

TAPE: MCAIN: Posing to Americans the danger that climate change proposes. What’s the best way to fix it? Nuclear power. Nuclear power is safe and it’s clean.

Kim Ferraro was one of those jeering. Ferraro heads the Legal Environmental Aid Foundation of Indiana and organizes the Green Drink gatherings.

She lives in Valparaiso, Indiana, an area not known for supporting Democrats, especially in presidential elections.

But she likes the fact that Indiana is getting attention from both campaigns.

FERRARO: The folks that I typically encounter are not going to be those undecided voters but clearly the state of Indiana has a lot of issues that are in play here in this election. Clearly, Indiana has a lot of work to do and I hope that we switch gears this year.

ambi of debate

One green drinker, Richard Herr says he’s not swayed so far by either candidate. A member of the Green Party, Herr says he’ll likely cast his ballot for a third party candidate. Although he was at one time leaning for Obama, Hair says the Illinois senator’s disappointed him recently.

HERR: His vote for the bailout for Wall Street, as far as I’m concerned, that was the nail in the coffin. That shows that he’s not supporting the people who are in trouble in their mortgages, he’s more interested in supporting the Wall Street bankers.

This morning, Obama’s expected in Indiana at a rally in Indianapolis. McCain, meanwhile, hasn’t visited the state since July. But the McCain campaign said this week it plans to add more staff throughout Indiana to shore up support.

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