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In Fort Worth, Romney supporters like what they heard

FORT WORTH -- Kitty Wooten nodded silently.

As Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney spoke Wednesday night during his first debate with Democratic President Barack Obama, his words appeared to convince Wooten -- a 57-year-old interior designer -- that she is making the right choice by supporting him in his bid for the White House.

Before the debate, Wooten and her husband, Mark, said they plan to vote for Romney.

But both wanted to learn more about him.

"I'm looking to learn more about Romney's substance," Kitty Wooten said.

And that she did Wednesday night.

As she listened to Romney talk about everything from the economy to healthcare, she became more confident in her decision.

"The more I see, the more I like," she said.

The Wootens sat side by side on a leather couch in their home, watching the debate with their dog, Bo, and a small group of friends -- mostly fellow members of their "Scripture Sistas" bible study group and their spouses -- after sharing a taco salad dinner.

They are among countless people nationwide tuning in to this year's presidential debates.

Wednesday's debate focused on the economy, and the nearly dozen people gathered at the Wooten home -- who work in occupations ranging from teachers and secretaries to sales representatives and office managers -- listened intently as Obama and Romney talked about their plans.

But the longtime friends chuckled at the beginning of the debate, when Romney walked onto the stage from the left and Obama walked from the right.

During the 90-minute debate, they often shook their heads when Obama detailed his plans.

"He wants to talk about the past, but he doesn't want to talk about the past four years," Kitty Wooten said.

As Romney described his plans for how to improve the economy, many in the room smiled and nodded.

"He's tough," said Vicky Stewart, a 59-year-old secretary.

Wooten smiled and agreed. "He is tough," she said.

When Romney talked about how he believes that competition can lower healthcare costs, several of the debate watchers said "yes!"

"He's so articulate," one person said.

The economy

When Romney talked about Wall Street, and what regulations and protections are needed, Stewart was impressed.

"He understands the business world," she said.

Mark Wooten, a credit card processor and self-described talk show junkie, has long been concerned about the economy, having seen changes in his business in recent years.

In tough times, he said, he sees more credit card use as people have a harder time making ends meet.

During better times, they use credit cards to take advantage of bonus points and miles.

But in recent years, "I've seen many more businesses go out of business because the economy is so bad," he said. "It's the state of the economy."

He was glad that Romney made good points on how to address the economic problems.

"It gives me more confidence in why I'm going to vote for him," Mark Wooten said. "Romney stayed with the numbers, stayed with the facts."

High expectations

He admitted that he was a little concerned about how Romney would perform given the high expectations that many across the country had for him.

"He's doing really good, looks real confident and comfortable," the 57-year-old said.

"Obama's the one who looks uncomfortable.

"The clear winner is Romney," he said. "He hit a home run."

Kitty Wooten said Obama was strong in convincing voters that he believes in big government.

"I see ... and observe from Obama a philosophy -- a vision for America -- that I don't share," she said.

More than anything, Kitty Wooten said, she helped herself by watching the first debate.

"I have a responsibility to know what Romney stands for, not just that he's conservative or moderate," she said.

"I've been waiting for this."

Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610

Twitter: @annatinsley