Local residents say Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had a strong performance compared to President Barack Obama in Wednesday night's first presidential debate, but it won't change their vote.

"I thought it was a good debate, but I thought the president would have done a little better," said Lena Hilbert, a Dover resident who works at Henry's Ham in Central Market in York City.

Hilbert and others tuned in to the 90-minute debate, moderated by PBS host Jim Lehrer at the University of Denver, to hear the presidential candidates offer a clear choice between two different plans for the country.

"I'm most concerned about the health issue," Hilbert said.

Even though she thought Romney had a stronger debate performance, it won't sway Hilbert's vote because she favors the Affordable Care Act.

Romney said Wednesday night he would repeal the act, also known as Obamacare.

"I thought Mitt Romney came off very well in the debates," said Carl Sibler, a retiree from Spring Garden Township. "He had more answers than the president. He said he will create jobs and we need them."

Sibler said one of Romney's strongest moments came when he said he would lower taxes on middle income Americans and lower tax rates for small businesses.

But Obama said the majority of Romney's tax plan would actually burden the middle class and grow the national deficit. Romney's plan would force drastic cuts in education, research and other areas that are helping the country grow, Obama said.

The latter resonated with Samantha Abate, a York City resident.


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"I felt like the president was telling the truth when he said (Romney's) plan for the economy would only work if we cut things like education and health care - the things people need most," she said.

Abate agreed with other Yorkers that the president didn't have a strong performance, but it didn't affect who she will choose at the polls.

"It wasn't a great debate overall, but Obama still has my vote because we're passionate about the same issues," she said.

Mark Kelly, an East Manchester Township resident, said Wednesday's debates also didn't sway his opinion.

"I was a Romney supporter before last night and still am today," he said Thursday morning. "His business background served him well last night, and I agree that we need to lower taxes. Obama's a nice guy, but he hasn't been good for the economy."

Jane Eckenrode, a West York resident, said she's also most concerned about jobs.

She also thought Romney won the debate, but Obama still has her vote, Eckenrode said.

Though the president "wasn't totally focused" Wednesday evening, Eckenrode still likes his views, she said.

"I'm sure he'll be better in the next debate," Eckenrode said.

Vice President Joe Biden and Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan will debate at 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, at Centre College in Kentucky.

The presidential candidates will meet again at 9 p.m. Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in New York, and their final debate will be held at 9 p.m. Oct. 22 at Lynn University in Florida.

- Candy Woodall can also be reached at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.