Wednesday, October 8, 2008

From Inside the Presidential Debate Hall

It's not every day that you have an opportunity to attend a Presidential debate. That's especially true when the venue happens to be your alma mater

As you can see in the photos, the town hall debate portion of the gallery was very small. This was all the television audience ever saw. Not only did the televised area occupy a small portion of the stage itself (which was a tiny portion of the arena), it was partially walled off and well separated from the rest of the auditorium. All of the dignitaries, press and ordinary guys like me were kept well back from the debate stage. There were 900-1000 of us located behind Brokaw, none visible to the television audience. 

You probably heard several members of the chattering classes complaining about how cold it was. They weren't lying. The AP writer sitting on my left was actually forced to put on a coat during the middle of the debate, and a magazine publisher to my right brought an extra pair of socks to keep her toes warm. The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) warned us in advance of the cool gallery climate. Since 1960 when Richard Nixon complained about the hot overhead lighting, causing him to sweat profusely, the CPD keeps the debate hall temperature in the low 60's.

As for my impressions of the debate itself as I watched it live, John McCain from the beginning looked old and defeated. He often sounded like a candidate who was trying to convince himself of his own answers. When he actually did answer a question, his answers were broken and blurry. He was stiff as a board, and his delivery reminded me of those "Now, Sonny boy..." lectures my great-grandpa used to give me when I was ten years old. Although John McCain repeatedly urged us to believe he wanted to be our friend, those sitting near me didn't buy it. 

No comments: