Bars across U.S. packed for Comey's testimony

Last Updated Jun 8, 2017 10:05 PM EDT

SAN FRANCISCO -- James Comey was everywhere Thursday -- watched by commuters on a San Francisco Bay Ferry and patrons in a Miami cigar bar.

It was 7 a.m. on the West Coast when the Senate hearing began, but at Ace's Bar in San Francisco, the TVs were turned up and the crowd was tuned in.

Heidi Zuhl dropped by on her way to work.

"I don't come to bars, frankly, at 7 o'clock on Thursday morning," she said. "But I wanted to see who my neighbors were and I wanted to see how everybody reacted."

Americans seemed compelled to experience the hearing with others. The line to get into the watch party at Shaw's Tavern in Washington, D.C., stretched down the block.

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The line at Shaw's Tavern in Washington, D.C.

CBS News

The crowd at a bar in Brooklyn surprised Rene Macioce.

"It's packed," Macioce said. "Me and my friends figured we'd see 10 people. Instead we couldn't even walk in to get a drink."

"People care. Big time," said Jeff Kaplan, an owner of Axelrad Beer Garden in Houston, which opened early and filled up.

"It is as if we're all watching our government as active participants and spectators together. The weird part is it feels like we're all in it. It feels so close," Kaplan said.

On Twitter, 3.6 million tweets were sent discussing Comey's testimony.

In bars, uncounted millions of opinions were expressed as millions tried to make up their own minds.

"That's the American way! That's democracy! That is what it's about!" said Gregory Bland, a patron at Ace's.

On Thursday, a divided nation was united, listening.

  • John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.