Debby Clark may be a registered Republican, but she's voting for the Democratic presidential candidate this year.

    The Dodge City woman, who wore a black T-shirt with the slogan, "Obama: This year I want a smart president," was one of several Obama supporters on hand when the local Democratic Party opened its headquarters Thursday night at Village Square Mall. She sat with Dodge City residents Marlene and Frank Thomas, facing a large-screen television tuned to C-Span's coverage of the Democratic National Convention.


Debby Clark may be a registered Republican, but she's voting for the Democratic presidential candidate this year.
    The Dodge City woman, who wore a black T-shirt with the slogan, "Obama: This year I want a smart president," was one of several Obama supporters on hand when the local Democratic Party opened its headquarters Thursday night at Village Square Mall. She sat with Dodge City residents Marlene and Frank Thomas, facing a large-screen television tuned to C-Span's coverage of the Democratic National Convention.
    Clark started this election year by supporting former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, then switched to backing Obama when Romney dropped out of the race. She said she found Obama's speeches inspiring and moving, and they convinced her to support him.
    She said she believes Obama will succeed in capturing the White House in November.
    "I just think the whole country is ready for change and for something different," Clark said. "I think he's a new, fresh face, and I just think a lot of people will gravitate toward him."
    She added that she liked Obama's pledge to end the war in Iraq.
    Obama won the Democratic presidential nomination Wednesday night in Denver, making him the first black American to lead a major party in its quest to capture the White House. He delivered his acceptance speech to a crowd of about 84,000 people Thursday night at Denver's Invesco Field.
    The drama surrounding Obama's campaign reminded Marlene Thomas of her first-ever presidential election in 1960, when she voted for John F. Kennedy and stayed up all night waiting for the results.
    "The excitement of it, it has the same aura," said Thomas, a registered Democrat. "It's the first time in a long time I'm really excited."
    While they waited for Obama to begin his acceptance speech, people munched on snacks and watched television footage of the convention's other speakers, including former Vice President Al Gore.
    Dodge City resident Dorothy Faulkner, vice chairman of the local Democratic Committee, said she originally supported Hillary Rodham Clinton's bid for the presidential nomination but changed her mind after Clinton urged Democrats to rally behind Obama.
    "Now I've become unified after the speeches," Faulkner said.
    She said Obama's choice of Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden as his running mate helped convince her to change her mind.
   
Reach Eric Swanson at (620) 408-9917 or e-mail him at eric.swanson@dodgeglobe.com.