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Detroit — Debate watchers were impressed with Sen. Cory Booker at a watch party Wednesday night for Democratic presidential candidates.   

Others at the watch party at the ACLU of Michigan headquarters also said they were impressed with Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris.

"I think (Booker's) answers have made the most sense for this day and age," said Claudia Seldon of Detroit.

Thomas Zerafa, a member of the Franciscan religious community living in Oak Park, said he was impressed with Gillibrand and Harris.

"(Gilibrand) seems to be the most direct," Zerafa said. "Kamala Harris is a close second. She really speaks with a lot of passion and she's not afraid to ... challenge all of them, and that's good because it stimulates conversation."

Heather Hamilton of Detroit said she was liked what she heard from Booker, but said she appreciated some of the ideas raised by entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

"(Yang has) got some good ideas. I don't think he's going to be on the ticket, but I hope some of his ideas are on the platform," Hamilton said.

While they let out muted laughs or "ooohs" for a few of the zingers delivered by candidates, the roughly 25 viewers at the watch party spoke very little during the debate and had their eyes glued to the projector screen at the front of the room. One exception was the ripple of approval that went through the group when Booker said the charged exchanges between former Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. and Harris were playing into the hands of Republicans.

The audio in the room was faint for a portion of the debate, and the sound of people munching popcorn and kettle chips could be heard throughout the night as they watched the candidates. 

Others on the stage Wednesday were Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

The ACLU is not endorsing candidates. The nonpartisan organization used commercial breaks during the debate to recruit people to advocate for criminal justice reform and protect abortion rights laws in Michigan leading up to the 2020 election.

Wednesday's watch party was the second hosted by the ACLU this week. On Tuesday, the first night of the Democratic debates in Detroit, the ACLU hosted a watch party in Grand Rapids.

ecarter@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-8846

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