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Watching The Debate With SF Republicans

Watching The Debate With SF Republicans
A scene at the Club. (Photos: Jackeline Luna)
By Hoodline - Published on September 29, 2016.

The following story comes from reporter Jackeline Luna, a student at UC Berkeley's School of Journalism.


If the post-debate analysis on all of the networks except Fox News indicated that Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton had triumphed in the first debate against her Republican opponent Donald Trump, that was not the view at the Presidio Public Golf Course’s Clubhouse.

There, more than 100 people from the San Francisco GOP and Young Republicans paid $35 a head to eat hors d’oeuvres, order drinks from a cash bar and watch the debate in like-minded company.

As 75-year-old Fred Schein said, “None of us knew what to expect.” But in the end, the group thought that their man had performed well.

“I was a little concerned that it would be the blow-off big temper Trump but instead, we had measured Trump,” said Rodney Leong, 49, who joined a diverse group, including a few people dressed in red, white and blue, with “Make America Great Again” hats and t-shirts. There was also a group near the front row that held up a homemade “LGBT for Trump” poster and, towards the back of the room, a “Latinos for Trump” poster popped up an hour into the debate.

Juan Hernandez and Kim Wotnack.

There was more nervousness before the debate than after it.

“I was a little nervous he might put his foot in his mouth,” said Hilary Hagenbuch, president of the San Francisco Young Republicans.

One of the few times the crowd got really loud was when Trump was asked whether he would be releasing his tax returns.

“I will release my tax returns — against my lawyer’s wishes — when she releases her 33,000 e-mails that have been deleted,” Trump said. “As soon as she releases them, I will release.”

Hagenbuch approved of the deal, but wished Trump would have included the release of health records as well.

“A lot of people said they wouldn’t vote for John McCain because he was old,”she said. “They were worried about his health and that he would die in office. I would like to know on either side of the political aisle the health records and current health status of any candidate.”

Trump's stage manner proved to investment strategist Jeff Ricker that Trump is more than he’s perceived to be.

“He dispelled some of the myths about him; that he would be a maniacal president,” Ricker said.

As Juan Hernandez, 21, prepared to leave the room at the end of the night, another guest mentioned, “Well, that’s a shirt you don’t see every day.” Hernandez was wearing a shirt with the rainbow flag and “LGBT for Trump” text on it.

Asked why more LGBT members should rally behind Trump, Hernandez said, “He is not going to be the one who is bringing in the refugees that want to slaughter and torture and throw off of roofs the LGBT community.”

Clinton, he said, had started the Don't Ask Don't Tell Policy and the Defense of Marriage Act. As it turns out, it was actually her husband who instated Don't Ask Don't Tell, the policy that barred gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military, and as president he had been critical of the Defense of Marriage Act, but signed it into law after it received a veto-proof endorsement in Congress.

The next debate between Trump and Clinton will take place on Oct. 9th.