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The dozen or so people watching the debate in the front room of the York County Democratic Party headquarters were animated, cheering on Hillary Clinton while jeering Donald Trump.

Lois Garnett, sitting up by the screen, was more animated.

"He's not answering the questions," she said to the TV on several occasions when Trump talked.

She cheered Clinton on when the Democratic candidate elaborated on her energy and environmental plans, contrasting them to Republican Trump's.

"Get him," she said.

Trump and Clinton tangled Monday night in the first televised debate, a somewhat free-wheeling affair that touched on topics ranging from the economy to race relations to the candidates' respective controversies.

George Zerba, sitting on the stairs outside the room and looking in, gave a wiggle of his hand when asked how he thought the debate was going.

"I'd say about 50-50," he said. "She's playing to her crowd; he's playing to his."

Toward the end of the debate, Garnett said she thought Clinton had done a good job staying presidential, in contrast to her adversary.

"I think Donald Trump is showing his true personality," she said.

Republicans: About halfway through the debate, Alex Shorb, the head of the York County Republican Committee, said it had gone pretty much how he expected.

"Secretary Clinton was well-prepared, while Trump was more natural and free-wheeling," Shorb said.

Shorb said that all the hype about the role of moderators in the debates hadn't really come into play Monday night. Lester Holt asked some follow-up questions and pressed the candidates occasionally but for the most part took a back seat, Shorb said.

"He lets them go at it," he said. "I think that's a good thing."

George Margetas, a local defense attorney who is on the local GOP executive committee, said he thought the debate had gone pretty well as of two-thirds of the way through.

He thought Trump had been a little rough in some parts but overall had presented himself well.

"He's shown poise," Margetas said.

Margetis, who said he's been a Trump fan since the start of the businessman's campaign, said he thought both candidates had given a good account of what they stand for, so independent voters have a clear choice before them. He said it comes down to Trump, the outsider, against Clinton, the establishment.

"These are the options we have," Margetas said. "You're getting the two flavors."

— Sean Cotter covers York City for The York Dispatch. Contact him at or on Twitter at @SPCotterYD.

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