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Political Parties: Where to Watch the First Debate

This Friday, presidential hopefuls Senators John McCain and Barack Obama will go head-to-head in the first round of presidential debates. Check out our guide to parties and bars where you and your politically-savvy friends can watch.

Busboys and Poets U Street location will house several Obama groups, showing the debates on its big screen as well as on televisions throughout the coffee shop.  Check out drink specials and stick around for live entertainment by Busboys’ house band, PS24.  Screenings will also be held at all three Busboys locations. busboyandpoets.com.

Ventnor Sports Cafe will not only be showing the debate on all 17 of their Hi-Def flat screen TVs, but they will be having a little fun with the event as well. Along with the regular Friday night specials, the cafe will offer a game similar to the ones played in colleges, where groups can choose a word that they think will be said multiple times throughout the debate, and every time one of the candidates says that word, they’ll offer $1 shots to the group. A big crowd is expected, so make sure to come early for a good spot.

Alexandria City Republicans will gather at Clyde’s in Mark Center from 7:30-10:30 PM to support McCain during the debate. Head to the back bar to watch the event and enjoy extended happy hour prices. Be sure to RSVP to the event here.

A group calling themselves the Progressive Happy Hour Crew will be hosting a Presidential Debate Watch and Dance Party at the chic Left Bank Bistro in Adams Morgan. There will be drink specials and a DJ spinning tunes, but don’t worry—you’ll be able to watch and hear the TVs. So come dance and debate this Friday starting at 8.

McCain supporters can stop by the Hilton in Old Town to view the first debate, gab a drink or a bite to eat. The hotel will reserve three flat screen TV’s for the McCainNation event, which begins at 7:30 PM.

Join the gay and lesbian community as they root on Barack Obama at the debate this Friday night starting at 8:30. The Obama Pride Debate Watch Party will be held in the upstairs lounge at the Town Dancebotique on the corner of 8th and U Street, NW. You can sigh up for the event here.

The Alexandria Young Republicans and the Arlington/Falls Church Young Republicans will co-host a debate watch party in the back room of Bailey’s Pub & Grille in Crystal City on Friday. Doors open at 7:30, but the debate doesn’t start until 9. Sign up for the event is here.

If you’re looking for a unique environment to watch Friday’s debate, then head over to the Lemon Tree Mediterranean Market & Gourmet Cafe in Rockville, Maryland. The TVs will start tuning in at 8, but come earlier for Turkish coffee and/or Mediterranean goodies.

Mahogany Restaurant and Lounge opens its doors at 8 PM for Obama supporters.  Enjoy food and drink specials while watching the debate on several TVs.

Join Young Latino Professionals for a debate watch party and fundraiser at Lounge 201.  A suggested campaign donation of $20 will be collected at the door.

Environmentalists for Obama will gather at the Oromo Center in Petworth around 6 PM to view the debate.  Food and drinks will be sold at the center.  

Enjoy an “Obama Bahama Mama” at B.Smith’s Restaurant in the Presidential Suite of Union Station starting at 7 PM Happy hour drink prices will be in effect, and guests will have the opportunity to win dinner for four at the restaurant.

If you're looking for a third party perspective in the debate, check out Libertarian Party nominee Bob Barr and his live counter-debate to the major political parties' candidates on Friday night. The event is being hosted by Reason, it starts at 8, and will be held at their headquarters, 1747 Connecticut Avenue NW, or follow it online at reason.com. RSVPs are required at events@reason.com or 202-986-0916.

African Diaspora for Obama will watch the debate at Enjera Restaurant in Crystal City.  The event starts at 7.

Watch the debate then participate in an open discussion at Kendejah Restaurant and Lounge.  Topics will include the points made during the debate as well as the impact of each candidates campaign.

Watch the debate and tour the Democratic Party of Virginia’s Alexandria headquarters.  Refreshments will be provided, but guests are encouraged to bring extra because a large crowd is expected.

Discuss the intersection of art and politics with Rex Weil, Curator of “Picturing Politics 2008,” at the Arlington Arts Center from 6:30-7:30 PM.  Stay after the free event for an after-party and screening of the first debate.

Here are a few other good places where you’ll be able to enjoy the political banter, though they haven’t yet firmed up their exact debate-watching plans or specials. But rest assured: there will be a good crowd and some drink deals:

Uno Chicago Grill in Largo will have a happy hour between 8-10 on Friday night for your debate viewing pleasure.

Timberlakes will be airing the debate on most of their flat screen TVs.

Stetson’s Famous Bar and Grill will have the Debate on all 8 of their TVs, which includes 1 projection screen, and rest assured, the sound will be heard.  

Capitol Lounge is guaranteed to have a great crowd watching the debate on all of their 30+ TVs.

Hawk and Dove will be showing the debate and will have drink specials for the occasion.

Update: Drinking Liberally and DC for Democracy are co-hosting a debate watching party Friday night at the 17th Street Cafe, just east of Dupont Circle.  The party starts at 7, so RSVP here to join the fun.

Head to the 1331 Bar at the JW Marriott for your debate dose tonight.  Enjoy some red, white and blue election cocktails, like the Grand Old Potable (GOP), On the Fence and the Left of the Isle.  The lounge will host happy hours every Tuesday through November 4, and show each presidential and vice presidential debate. 

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