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Taking Sides At The Presidential Debate Party At O'Connor's In Brookfield

Michael Zacchea of Brookfield, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel
Michael Zacchea of Brookfield, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel Photo Credit: Sandra Diamond Fox
Debate Party and Trivia Night on Monday evening at O'Connor's Public House in Brookfield
Debate Party and Trivia Night on Monday evening at O'Connor's Public House in Brookfield Photo Credit: Sandra Diamond Fox
Eileen Straiton, chair of the Brookfield Democratic Town Committee, reads trivia questions on the presidential candidates, shortly before the debate began.
Eileen Straiton, chair of the Brookfield Democratic Town Committee, reads trivia questions on the presidential candidates, shortly before the debate began. Photo Credit: Sandra Diamond Fox
Brookfield resident Jerimey Matney, who said he is a Donald Trump supporter
Brookfield resident Jerimey Matney, who said he is a Donald Trump supporter Photo Credit: Sandra Diamond Fox
Eileen Straiton of Brookfield, chair of he Democratic Town Committee
Eileen Straiton of Brookfield, chair of he Democratic Town Committee Photo Credit: Sandra Diamond Fox

BROOKFIELD, Conn. -- Donald Trump was voted what by his Class of 1964 at the New York Military Academy of Cornwall-on-Hudson: Class clown, biggest mouth, best hair or ladies man?

The correct answer: Ladies Man.

That was one of the dozen or so questions Eileen Straiton, chairman of the Brookfield Democratic Town Council, posed to about 40 people Monday night at a Presidential Debate Watching and Trivia Night in the back room of O'Connor's Public House in Brookfield.

Participants could win a "Democrats Rule" T-shirt, a $20 O'Connor's Gift Card and other prizes.

Aside from trivia questions, people had the chance to share political views, socialize and enjoy hors d'oeuvres while watching the first 2016 presidential debate between Trump, the Republican candidate, and his Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton. It was held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., and was moderated by Lester Holt of NBC News.

Many people who attended the Brookfield event were certain of whom they plan to vote for. One was retired Marine Lt. Col. Michael Zacchea of Brookfield, who was wounded in the Battle of Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004.

"Everything that Donald Trump says about the military is either wrong or false," Zacchea said. "Trump says he has a secret plot to defend ISIS. Trump doesn't understand the mindset of ISIS, it's not possible on the Islamic fundamentalist extremist mindset."

Zacchea, who has been working with disabled veterans for eight years and is on the board of several national and state veterans organizations, said Trump was missing in action when it came to giving money to veterans organizations until he decided to run for president.

"He is using veterans as a pawn," he said. "Veterans see through him. It's a scam."

Straiton, a mother of four daughters who works as a writer of early childcare curriculum, said she finds Trump to be so offensive that when he is on television, "I feel like I have to hold the remote in my hand. I might have to turn off the TV to make sure what he is saying isn't damaging my daughters."

Originally a Bernie Sanders supporter, Straiton now supports Clinton because "I hold very dear the issues of what she is fighting for on a social level with regard to parenthood, gun control and women's rights."

Straiton said she comes from an NYPD family. "I'm not anti-gun ownership. I'm for responsible gun ownership and mental health background checks," she said.

Although the majority of people at O'Connor's were Democrats, there were also Trump supporters in the room. Jerimey Matney of Brookfield, who works as a body shop technicIan, said he is from the South and is a Trump fan.

He said he believes the U.S. needs some "shaking up after the last eight years of nothing happening."

Matney blasted the presidency of Barack Obama.

"Obama did nothing. He took no initiative," he said.

Matney brought up the subject of the coal industry. "All the people from my hometown of Raceland, Ky., including my parents, family and friends -- are out of a job because the coal business died. This is because of Obama.

"I grew up dirt poor in a trailer park on welfare. The system doesn't work," he said. "Trump may not be the best candidate, but that's all we have and we'll take it."

Brookfield resident Liz Kennedy, who works as a school administrator, said she was happy to come out to watch the debate at O'Connor's. "It's very exciting that there is a possibility of having the first female president of the United States."

"This is a very contested debate and this in itself is historical."

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