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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Presidential Debate on ABC recap!!

I had the amazing opportunity to attend the ABC presidential debate at Drake on Sunday morning. It was awesome! I have so much to write about it, so we'll see where I get tonight.

For starters, since the live broadcast started at 8 am, we had to be seated for the pre-program at 7 am, and we were asked to be there at 6 am. All this being said, I got up 4:45 am and drove over to the theatre where they held the debate. It was pouring rain, and parking was a good walk from the theatre. Needless to say, most of the audience members were soaked when they got there. There were no cameras or cell phones allowed in the theatre, so I have no photos from the event. I have a few others to share, though.

As the debate started, they went through a few recognitions of ABC vice presidents and producers, and then they brought in George Stephanopoulus wearing a cool tie. Then they had the candidates come in. They files in and the audience applauded. There was a bit of a pause and then Mitt Romney came in. As he did, a ton of people started cheering. I realized that I was in a great group of people.

As they stood on the stage, they had about 10 minutes to spare before the broadcast started. They all looked nervous, which was my first big realization : these men are all human after all. Despite their differences of opinion, or experience, or policies, they are all human after all. I think this set me up for a much better debate. It very quickly evened out the biases I had coming into the event.

As the camera started rolling, George started off the debate by exposing Brownbacks dirty robo-dialer tactics. I am not sure if he was trying to cut down Brownback or Romney. Romney quickly spoke up to defend himself, as well as re-directing the entire debate. I am sure the ABC execs wanted to get the candidates to start arguing, and make fools out of themselves in order to belittle the republican candidates. All in the name of pushing the DNC. Romney suggested that instead of asking policy questions to their opponents, they should simply ask that specific candidate about his policies. What an incredible concept!! The media doesn't know how to do that per se, so I am glad Romney stepped up.

One highlight was when Tancredo got upset about being ignored on the stage and called out George for it. Another highlight was when Romney and Giuliani were both asking if Ron Paul had forgotten about 9-11. I think Ron Paul has been in trouble for his treatment of that issue in past debates! Nothing new.

As the debate went on, you could tell where the supporters were sitting in the audience. All the candidate's tickets were grouped together. We got a good feel for the support that was represented there. The McCain supporters were sitting in the row in front of us. They weren't very "outgoing" when it came to applause. The Paul supporters were to the left of us, and almost all of the hundred-or-so Drake students were Paul supporters. They somehow managed to rig the lottery on tickets. Either that or the other students didn't know about it. That being said, the Paul supporters were loud and a bit disrespectful to the other candidates, and at one point, I think an ABC rep. told them to tone it down. I also distinctly heard a cell phone RINGING in their section. (remember I previously stated that they weren't even allowed inside, let alone having the ringer turned up). There were 8 people there for Thompson sitting in the balcony under the spotlights. I couldn't really tell where the rest of the candidate's supporters were, except for maybe the Giuliani supporters in the first few rows. Despite the separatist statehood of the seating, there were Romney supporters scattered throughout, and of course in our couple rows of Romney tickets.

I noticed that Romney got along quite well with Giuliani. They were chatting it up quite a bit while they were not on camera. Maybe there will be a spot in Romney's cabinet for Giuliani!

The best moment of all was towards the end when the candidates were discussing the role of a vice president and ripping on Cheney. Romney took the conversation at that point and stated in more or less words "Let's remember, the current presidency has kept this country safe for almost 6 years since 9-11". After he said that, the entire audience broke into applause, and in my mind, sealed Mitt Romney as the winner of the debate. Wow.

After the debate they had the candidates bring their families on the stage, and it was a neat to see all of their significant others and kids. Again, this added a human element to all the candidates. As much as I don't like their policies, I feel like I can appreciate them as people. Except for maybe Brownback and his dirty campaign tactics.

OK, so here are some photos: First the Program from the debate. It has some interesting facts about the candidates, like the fact that Romney is listed as being "Mormon" rather than "Latter Day Saint". And that fact that Tancredo's favorite food is "Mexican". Seriously, who writes this stuff??

After the debate, I bumped into this guy waiting for his limo........ I love how George makes me look taller. Seriously though, that is a great tie he has on!!
I also stopped by the campaign HQ and saw the Mitt Mobile..........

That;s all for now. What a weekend, and we still have the Straw poll to enjoy this weekend!


Slick-Willy said...

Well done. It appears that about everyone else agrees w/you. Romney has probably "won" every debate, but he truly owned this one. Wish I could have been there.

Jeff Fuller said...

Great inside perspective Keith! Thanks for sharing.

Looking forward to seeing you and everyone else at the Ames Straw Poll on Saturday!