It was clear from the moment Charlie Baker stepped out onto the stage that he had acquired more than just the support of multiple newspapers, including The Boston Globe. The audience erupted in claps and chants and I was finally among the crowd of political supporters. With seats five rows in front of the stage it was easy to catch the candidates’ facial expressions and body language, as well as hear them clearly.

Baker’s most defining moment in the debate came when Martha Coakley brought into question his handling of the Harvard Pilgrim layoffs. Coakley suggested numerous times that there were many different ways Baker could have gone about the situations without the layoffs of so many people. When Baker turned the question around and asked what she would have done in the situation, Coakley diverted from the question and supplied no additional alternatives. Baker, quick on his feet, came back with, “So you have no other suggestions.”

The crowd exploded into laughter and applause. It was this kind of wit and rapid thinking I was looking forward to the most during the debate.  Despite Coakley’s claim that Baker’s economic plan was your typical republican, trickle-down economic plan the crowd still voiced their support when Baker went into depth of what the plan included. Inside the plan, which is available online for anyone to read, includes tax cuts and tax incentives given to businesses that employ veterans.

It was amusing to see both candidates struggle in the “yes” or “no” final section of the debate. Like your average person the candidates wanted to defend the one word answer. Questioning whether illegal immigrants should be allowed a driver’s license the question came as a simple “no” to Baker but Coakley refused to answer saying repeatedly, “I don’t know.” On such an immense topic, especially apparent today, I would have liked to have seen Coakley establish a firm stance on the issue.

Perhaps the best part of my night came when I arrived at the post debate party for Baker held at the Compass Tavern in Worcester. With the assistance of Janet Leombruno, special assistant to Karyn Polito, I was able to meet and get pictures with both Polito and Baker. As I mentioned earlier, if it makes a difference as to how you vote Baker told me he liked my American flag sweater. As this is my first time voting both Baker and Polito told me how much it meant to them that my support was with them. Baker shared with me that it is always refreshing to see young people show such an interest in politics and its votes like mine that make all the difference. He was completely genuine and though he had only moments to spend with each person he made those moments count and listened deeply to what the individual was saying.

I’ll leave you with this final quote from Baker, “It’s all about who shows up.” Mentioned by both candidates, no matter what the polls have been saying, this is going to be a very tight race. While Baker has received such a strong outpour of support, seen at last night’s debate, it will come down to whether those who cheered at the debates and in the streets show up November 4th at their voting station. I strongly encourage you to go out and vote. Voting is the one way you have control over who will take office in January and voice your opinion.

Kylie O’Rourke

Student Reporter

Wachusett Young Republicans