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Georgia Voters React To 1st Night Of The Democratic Presidential Debate

NOEL KING, BYLINE: All right. What did voters think of last night's debate? Last night in Atlanta, there was a watch party. And reporter Emma Hunt (ph) from member station WABE in Atlanta was there.

EMMA HURT, BYLINE: Just over a hundred people are at this Italian restaurant near downtown Atlanta. The walls are plastered with signs about top Democratic issues. The crowd is excited and curious.

FALICE MINOR: My name is Falice Minor.

HURT: Minor is a retired government employee from Atlanta who follows politics closely. But still, when all the candidates filed on stage...

How many of those people do you actually know who they are?

MINOR: Oh, let's see - one, two, three, four, five.

HURT: For Minor and many others, this was a chance to get to know those other faces. Alaina Reaves works for a local Democratic group south of Atlanta. She doesn't have a favorite candidate yet but was happy to study the field.

ALAINA REAVES: I'm also just trying to get an idea of who people are. I'm like, oh, it's that white guy.

HURT: As expected, the polling frontrunner on last night's stage, Senator Elizabeth Warren, did get a lot of love from the crowd.

(APPLAUSE)

HURT: But so did Julian Castro, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

LEAH TROTMAN: Julian, all right. All right. All right, Julian. All right, I see what you're saying.

HURT: That's Leah Trotman, a college student from the Virgin Islands. She appreciated his callout to Puerto Rico and was impressed by his delivery.

TROTMAN: Right now Julian Castro is, at least from the minors of the candidates, pushing through for me at the top.

HURT: Trotman was there with a group of classmates who were also impressed by him. Here's Emily Smith from Tennessee.

EMILY SMITH: Yeah, he brought up some points about certain communities that none of the other candidates brought up. Like, he brought up the trans community when talking about health care and inclusive health care policies.

HURT: His concluding statement got the biggest applause. And after a loud evening, the group's ready to come back for more tonight, even Ashley Hobbs from Thomaston, Ga., who'd never watched a debate before.

ASHLEY HOBBS: You got me, like, in it. I'm in now, like...

(LAUGHTER)

HURT: For NPR News, I'm Emma Hurt in Atlanta.

(SOUNDBITE OF GEORGIA ANNE MULDROW'S "DAS FUNK") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.