Democrats and Republicans party in different ways.
At least officially.
During the second round of last week's televised presidential debates, Republicans officially gathered in the Colorado Springs Coors headquarters, where they drank bottled water and cheered on their man. Democrats, on the other hand, decided to hold their official shindig in a comfortable sports bar, with the beer flowing. Other not-so-official gatherings were held all over the city.
"I'll kiss your elephant and you can kiss my ass," said Cheryl Robison, a Colorado Springs Democrat who joined about 50 of her brethren, along with a few independents and undecided Republicans at the Sports Page in southwestern Colorado Springs. For many of the Democrats, the party was a joyous moment in Republican-dominated El Paso County.
"It's a lot easier to be with people of our own kind," said Steve Krenz, who came to the party with his wife and son. "Every other day we're out there banging our heads against the wall trying to convince people [Bush] is an idiot."
Surrounded by walls of televisions, Democrats alternately gave each other high-fives for Kerry and cackled at Bush,
Across town, about 35 local Republicans crammed into a small room to watch the debate amid "Coors for Senate" and Bush-Cheney campaign posters.
Deb Howe, a Colorado Springs resident who plans to vote for Bush, said terrorism and the war in Iraq are paramount this election.
"That attack on our country on 9/11 was huge," she said. "I am worried about the future."
When Bush delivered a similar message during the debate, saying, "I'm worried about America," a booming and boozy voice carried over the din of the Democrat sports bar. "You're worried about losing."
Meanwhile, Republicans booed the television when Kerry said he'd cut taxes.
But they were soon laughing. One of the biggest hoots came when Bush said Kerry's politics made him want to scowl. The remark was an obvious reference to the blinking, ticking facial expressions that Bush made during the first debate.
State Sen. Ed Jones of Colorado Springs, a big Bush cheerleader, smacked high-fives and punctuated Bush's retorts by bellowing, "Hello!"
At one point Jones leaned to a friendly face to say of Kerry: "This guy's a liberal puke. He's a liberal puke."
There were lulls, even for merrymaking Dems. An undecided independent pair, Keith and Diane Figgens of Monument, listened aghast as Kerry described his rollback on tax cuts and plan to close tax loopholes. As owners of a small computer software business, they cringed at some of Kerry's ideas. "If this guy gets elected," Keith Figgens said. "I'll move (my business) offshore."
Over at Coors Central, Andy Merritt, a staff worker for Republican Sen. Wayne Allard, expected Democrats were probably licking their wounds after the debate.
"I think they're a little depressed because they thought they'd be able to knock out Bush, but Kerry failed," Merritt said.
Not surprisingly, the consensus that night at the Democrat gathering was far different. "I thought it was so obvious," said state Rep. Mike Merrifield, up for re-election this November. "Senator Kerry just cleaned his clock."
-- Michael de Yoanna and Dan Wilcock