Camas resident David Nierenberg was in audience as President Barack Obama and rival Mitt Romney squared off Tuesday night in New York state.
Nierenberg, a philanthropist and longtime friend of Romney's, was invited by the Romney campaign to watch the debate. He was seated with members of the Romney family.
Nierenberg said that unlike the first debate between Romney and Obama -- which he called a "blowout" for Romney -- Tuesday night's debate didn't have a clear winner.
"It was well fought by both sides and probably ended in a draw," Nierenberg said by phone after the debate. "The president was a lot more effective today than he was two weeks ago. Mitt was effective, as well."
Romney especially scored in one area: being able to define himself, rather than letting the national media or the president's campaign define him, Nierenberg said.
"People have the chance to see him as he is," Nierenberg said, describing Romney as intelligent, articulate, courteous and level-headed. Unlike the president, Romney has not had the same opportunity to be "as well known by the public."
Tuesday's debate was the first presidential debate Nierenberg had watched in person.
He said he felt as if he and the other audience members "were eyewitnesses to history," especially because so much was on the line for both candidates in this particular matchup. In the days leading up to Tuesday, many political pollsters declared that the presidential race was in a statistical dead heat in many swing states.
Nierenberg, 59, worked for Romney for seven years at Bain & Co., a consulting firm, and he describes Romney as a "mentor." Nierenberg is now a financial consultant and investor. He also is a prominent fundraiser for the Romney campaign in the Pacific Northwest.
After Tuesday night's debate, Nierenberg took advantage of the post-debate buzz by making phone calls to donors.