After watching with dread Donald Trump’s political rise, Wencke Roed wasn’t sure she could endure the first presidential debate alone.
“I needed a drink and camaraderie,” said Roed, a 67-year-old retired nurse wearing a blue scarf and clutching a yard sign.
She found both in midtown Sacramento, where about 175 Democratic faithful filled Mango’s to watch the first televised clash between Republican Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
They cheered lustily for Clinton’s carefully crafted zingers and attack lines – especially popular were her embrace of a higher minimum wage and equal pay for women, denunciations of “Trumped-up trickle down” economics, attack on Trump’s unreleased tax returns and retort of “You know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president.”
Perhaps even more passionate were their reactions to Trump, from howls of disbelief when he denied questioning the reality of climate change to his touting his “temperament” as superior to Clinton’s.
Bartenders did a brisk business throughout. Attendees munched on plates of tacos and quesadillas, which circulated as Trump denounced Mexico’s trade relationship with America.
Some came dressed in Clinton gear or simply in blue; one young man wore a Bernie Sanders button next to a Clinton button. One attendee printed out and distributed “Hillary: Because Trump is Insane” signs.
Reactions among the energized crowd were mostly optimistic afterward.
“Hillary slammed it,” Roed said.
“I thought she came across calm, cool and collected,” said Michelle Embree, a 55-year-old paralegal. “She didn’t take (Trump’s) bait.”
But Ed Long, a 59-year-old public servant, wasn’t as certain.
“I think objectively that Hillary Clinton did very, very well,” he said, “but I think on an emotional level, for people who distrust the establishment and who are suspicious of intellectuals, that Trump probably carried the day.”