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 TV, Radio, and Multimedia awards, as well as a Clarion for her TV coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, Google Glass & Other Wearables, and the 9/11 Anniversary.

    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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.