Abingdon's Regal Cinema draws small crowd for 'entertainment value' of presidential debate

Terry Flannery, an Abingdon resident, discusses the second presidential debate, which was broadcast for free at the Abingdon Regal Cinemas on Sunday, Oct. 9. (Bryna Zumer, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Terry Flannery thought the second presidential debate might be more action-packed, "more like 'Jerry Springer,' or WWF," especially in light of "the most recent revelations" about Donald Trump's crude comments on women.

He seemed a bit disappointed when the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump showdown ended somewhat tamely Sunday night. Flannery was one of about 17 people who watched the debate live on the big screen at Regal Cinema in Abingdon..


Regal Cinemas had made the second debate, presented as a town hall forum in St. Louis, available for free in select theaters. Abingdon was one of five such theaters in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., area.

Several people who attended did not seem especially surprised by the debate, and no one expected it to change their minds, despite Trump's lewd comments from 11 years ago that prompted a tailspin in the Republican party over the weekend.

Maxine Guercio, of Bel Air, and Sandra Carrig, of Abingdon, said after the debate they still plan to vote for Trump.

From left, Terry Flannery, Kathy Flannery, Candece Seling and Jeff Seling were among those getting ready to watch the second presidential debate at Abingdon's Regal Cinema.
From left, Terry Flannery, Kathy Flannery, Candece Seling and Jeff Seling were among those getting ready to watch the second presidential debate at Abingdon's Regal Cinema.(BRYNA ZUMER | AEGIS STAFF)

"It's disturbing, it's very, very disturbing," Guercio admitted about Trump's comments, before Carrig added: "But the alternative was more disturbing." Carrig also said "we try to eliminate" the more personal type of accusations in making their decisions.

The women said they did enjoy watching the sparring in a movie theater. They and others who came said the theater should offer such viewings more often.

"This was really neat, seeing it in this kind of situation," Carrig said. "It was comfortable and I liked seeing it on the big screen."

Guercio agreed, and she called the debate "interesting."

The theater had no signs or advertisements about the event; Guercio and Carrig said they only learned about it because it was mentioned at the bottom of a movie ticket.


Flannery, who lives in Abingdon, said the idea of watching it in the theater "is fantastic. We were going to watch it at home, but thought there might be a diverse crowd here, plus the price is right."

Flannery said he is voting for Clinton, although "there's no quality [candidate] to vote for." His wife, Kathy, a Republican, is not voting at all, because Trump "makes me cringe."

With the major party conventions over, Maryland Democrats and Republicans are turning their attention back home, to the next three months of a general election campaign unlike those before it.

They came to the show with Kathy Flannery's brother, Jeff Seling, and his wife, Candece Seling. The couple lives in Baltimore but grew up in Harford County.

The Selings were planning to vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, and Candece Seling said "it's a shame [candidates] have to make it to 15 percent [support in polls] to even make it to the debate."

"I want more options, that's all I want," she explained. She thought watching it in a theater "is awesome. I wish it was more often, because it just gets you more involved and you come out as a group."

Jeff Seling said he wanted to watch at the theater for "the reaction of the crowd" and the movie atmosphere.


He watched the first debate and the vice-presidential debate, and thinks "at this point, it's kind of like a free-for-all, especially in light of everything that came out over the weekend."

Jeff Seling might have been speaking for much of the country when he described the debates as sort of cinematic already.

"I was thinking of it kind of like a movie, but it's real life," he said with a smile about the election. "At this point, it's kind of just entertainment value."