Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS -- Election day is just 33 days away, and Wednesday night President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney faced off.

Watching the first half of the 90-minute debate from our eyewitness newsroom were political heavy hitters from across the state of Louisiana and New Orleans.

This is what the state's Republican and Democratic party chairs had to say about the presidential candidates performances.

'I thought they were both very good. Both made points that were very important,' said Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere. 'I thought Romney, because being a small business, it really affected me a lot when he talked about helping small business and creating jobs. And I really believe that that's going to be the future of success for this country.'

'I think the president is making the case that his vision, which does include those that are more fortunate and wealthy to pay not only their fair share but a little more to help America grow and progress and move forward, I think that's what we're hearing, and there's a real specific plan to do that,' said state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans and the Louisiana Democratic Party chair.

As far as a winner for the debate, the presidents of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans and the League of Women Voters of New Orleans say it boils down to the American public.

'We're seeing a stark contrast, and I think what actually happens is the onlooker, the viewer, gets to see what's most important to me,' said Nolan Rollins of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans. 'Is it the 97 percent, is it the 3 percent? Do I think the 3 percent, if we empower them, are going to be more empowered to make America grow better? Do I think the 97 percent is going to be there? Do I think that this is actually trickle down economics from the more wealthy that's going to help America? Do I think it's going to be trickle down government work that's going to help America?'

'The winner is really the American public,' said League of Women Voters of New Orleans President Lea Young. 'Fifteen million people will be watching this. When you go to a debate or forum you're actually going there to connect with the person and see there's always a certain chemistry that we have with individuals that you immediately like or dislike them. Then you have to filter out their views and how that fits in with what you think is the right thing to do.'

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