People talk before the start of the Democratic debate at the Cobb County Republican Party Headquarters in Marietta Wednesday, November 20, 2019. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

GOP members watch, strategize as Dem hopefuls debate

As Democrats debated in Atlanta Wednesday night, Republicans in Cobb County sought to show that Georgia remains a Republican stronghold that would throw its support behind Donald Trump.

“One of our future opponents is taking the stage down the road,” Marc Lotter, director of strategic communications for Trump’s 2020 campaign, said at a GOP debate watch party in Marietta. “They want to take your tax money so people in our country illegally can get free health care, free college. That’s not the way America works.”

Democrats have shown increasing strength in the Atlanta suburbs, suggesting that Georgia will be a swing state next year. But Trump supporters watching the debate Wednesday night said the state remains GOP country.

Photos: Democratic presidential candidates debate in Atlanta

Related: Impeachment hearings play lead role on Democratic debate stage

Related: Local Democrats gather to watch Atlanta presidential debate

Kiera Wainer, Women’s Engagement Coordinator for the Republican National Committee, takes a selfie after talking about the importance of social engagement at the Democratic debate watch party at the Cobb County Republican Party Headquarters in Marietta. Photo: Steve Schaefer for the AJC
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Tess Redding, who wore a Trump T-shirt and posed for a photo with a Trump cutout, said immigration policy is important to her. “I am an immigrant - legal,” the Philippines native said.

Others mentioned ongoing impeachment efforts.

“I’m not happy the Democrats are trying to take away my voice, my vote and my freedom with these illegitimate hearings,” said Wendy Harper.

November 19, 2019 Sandy Springs - Supporters cheer as Senior Advisor Kimberly Guilfoyle delivers a keynote speech at Heritage Sandy Springs Museum and Park in Sandy Springs on Tuesday, November 19, 2019. The GOP hold an event in support of President Trump the day before Dems debate in Atlanta. Women for Trump hosted an 'Empower Hour' ahead of the Democrat debates to highlight the accomplishments of President Trump’s administration and his commitment to empowering women and families. (Hyosub Shin /

A number of issues are important to Jacqueline Tseng, but she boiled it down to one.

“The overreaching issue I’m fighting is socialism,” the 7th District Congressional candidate said. “My family and I escaped the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge. I lived through the evils of socialism and the tyranny of Communism.”

Debate recap: Georgia leaders, issues come up late in debate

People play Death Carnival during DreamHack Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center Sunday, November 17, 2019. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Photo: Steve Schaefer

Although the debate started at 9 p.m. Marisa James arrived at 5 p.m. to snag a front-row seat, but she wasn’t sure she’d stay until the end: “I literally can never watch a full debate because I get so disgusted.”

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.