Fred Glickman - an organizer of Tuesday night's debate between 28-year incumbent U.S. Rep. John Spratt and challenger Mick Mulvaney - put it bluntly after the hour-plus face-off was over.
"One guy, Spratt, talked about the past, while the other guy, Mulvaney, talked about the future."
Glickman, who calls himself an independent, said that in the distant past, he voted for the Democrat Spratt. But the future - the Republican Mulvaney - is where he stands now.
"We need to start thinking about the future," Glickman said. "The difference is clear."
The candidates in the Fifth Congressional District race jabbed each other pretty good over many topics, but differed especially over federal spending policy.
Spratt talked repeatedly of his accomplishments - even defending what, clearly, in that room of about 250 older people at River Hills Country Club is an unpopular health care reform package.
Mulvaney, glib on his feet and standing toe-to-toe with number-cruncher Spratt on dollars and cents, called for repeal of the health care package.
Duane Stanek - a homebuilder and member of the River Hills Lions Club, which hosted the debate - said both candidates did "a remarkable job of laying out their positions."
Both were clear about the role of government, Stanek said, with Mulvaney saying hands off business and Spratt talking about his position that involves more government in daily life.
Twice Spratt espoused a child health insurance program that Mulvaney opposed. Yet that encroachment of government pushes people like Stanek and his wife, Sandy, toward Mulvaney.
"We need a balanced budget, but we need less government to do that," Duane Stanek said.
Sandy Stanek, like her husband and so many others afterward, applauded Spratt's effort Tuesday night and his years of service, but said Mulvaney is emblematic of the changes Washington needs.
"We need youth, and a new direction," Sandy Stanek said.
Mulvaney was clearly comfortable in his role as challenger against big-government federal stimulus and health care.
Yet Duane Stanek said the older, generally conservative audience that applauded Mulvaney more than Spratt was "skewed" toward Mulvaney's positions in general and he is unsure what an audience that was younger and less affluent would think.
"The people here generally agree with Mulvaney," he said, "but that is not the whole district where John Spratt has years of service to run on."
That respect for Spratt's service - but clear difference of opinion with him on the role of government - was echoed by several voters afterward who came as couples to watch in person a debate that was not televised.
Donna Van Leer, a Mulvaney supporter, said the health care bill and the cost to taxpayers is just too much for her to even consider voting for Spratt. Yet her husband Frank, who calls himself an independent, said he was not convinced either man won Tuesday's debate.
The next two months before the Nov. 2 election can be a chance for voters to do what the Van Leers did Tuesday - Listen, then decide for themselves without some political hack on either side telling the voter what to think or why.
If there are more debates and those debates are televised, Frank Van Leer said, more people can decide for themselves without the political trash-talking.
"Both were well prepared, both were sharp," he said. "I hope people read more and listen more before the election.
"But I hope people here, and other voters, vote for who they think is best for the country - not out of fear."