Presidential Debate Brings Political Theater to Denver

 Every four years, millions of Americans turn on their TV's to watch the major party candidates for president do battle.  The televised presidential debates offer a chance for American voters to see them on the same stage.  Modern debates are political theater -- part hype and part show business. 

"Mr. President, as president, you're entitled to your own airplane and your own house but not your own facts." Mitt Romney quipped during the face to face clash between himself and President Barack Obama, who has a slight lead in the polls.

But outside the theater where the debate was being held, there was a party. The University of Denver called it "Debate Fest". After months of classes on politics and presidential debates, students enjoyed the national spotlight.  "Debate Fest" participants enjoyed performers, who shared the stage with social media -- a wall of tweets.
 
One hundred lucky students had their names drawn in a lottery where the prize was a chance to sit inside the debate hall.  Doctoral student Catherine Orsborn was one of the participants.
 
“I'm interested to see if Romney can shift focus of the debate," she said.
 
Massive chain link fences marked the debate perimeter and police patrol the entrances.
 
Inside, the university's hockey rink was transformed into a debate hall. Seven thousand seats were removed to make room for the massive stage, to make space for the media, and for extra security. That left only 1,000 seats for an audience.
 
Beforehand, stand-ins for the president and Romney helped technicians get audio and lighting just right. Backstage there was a filing center where 3,000 journalists watched and wrote their stories - 700 of them from foreign countries. Wessel de Jong, a correspondent for Dutch Public Broadcasting, said his viewers in the Netherlands would stay up all night to watch the U.S. Debate.
 
“United States is some kind of laboratory I think for politics in general," he explained. "So many politicians in the Netherlands just look at what's being done here. Right wing politicians, you see them copying tea party strategies. It's a big inspiration -- what's going on here.”
 
Afterwards, there was the organized chaos known as "Spin Alley", which has become a fixture of American presidential debates.  

"The President couldn't justify his positions," one person said.

"Mitt Romney's having trouble in this campaign," opined another.

The campaigns sent advocates to Denver to tell journalists who they thought won the debate. Political insiders call it a "spin" of the national discussion and voters perceptions.
 
But in the end, it's the 50 million viewers watching on TV and on the internet who will decide if this first debate, or the other presidential and vice presidential debate will sway their votes.

  • Kim Li, a junior at Denver University, watches the first 2012 U.S. presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on an outdoor screen at Denver University in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012.
  • Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, left, listens to President Barack Obama during the first presidential debate at the University of Denver.
  • President Barack Obama smiles at moderator Jim Lehrer during the first presidential debate with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at the University of Denver.
  • Moderator Jim Lehrer speaks to the audience at the start of the first presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in Denver.
  • Mitt Romney smiles at President Barack Obama during the first presidential debate.
  • President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney participate in the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver.
  • Jessica Johnston (holding sign) watches the first 2012 presidential debate on an outdoor screen at Denver University in Denver, Colorado.
  • Dawn, left, and Randy Cornell, watch the presidential debate at the United Steelworkers Local 4856 Union Hall in Henderson, Nevada.
  • With a broadcast of the presidential debate reflected in a mirror above the bar, customers at the Havana Social Club in Seattle watch President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney debate.
  • Harriet Garrett reacts while watching the first Presidential debate between Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and President Barack Obama at a restaurant in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia.
  • President Barack Obama (R) listens as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney speaks during the debate in Denver.
  • Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama shake hands after the first presidential debate at the University of Denver.
  • Mitt Romney and his wife Ann wave to the crowd following the debate.

Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.   She has also won numerous Associated Press awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.
This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs