An “All-Access-Pass” to the Debates and the College

January 5, 2008

Student Stand In RehearsalThe day before the debates — best described as controlled chaos unfolded on the campus of Saint Anselm College today. I began my day at about 6 o’clock Friday morning on the corner of the Quad, awaiting for an unknown “Fox and Friends” program guest to arrive (who turned out to be Gov. Richardson). I split the rest of my morning between our workspace in the lower level of the Cushing Student Center, the debate hall, and the Fox newsroom.

Throughout the day, I utilized my “all-access-passes” to gain admittance to a number of events. One of my first stops was the Dana Center, which today played host to a group of students who are serving as stand-ins for the candidates who will appear on stage Saturday evening. Students were advised to spend the past few weeks reviewing previous debate transcripts and video, essentially learning and duplicating their candidate’s debate style. From our perch in the audience, we were able to capture the students in action as the ABC staff rehearsed their camera angles and other debate-night logistics.

Student Interview with College PresidentMy next stop was the first floor of Alumni Hall, with Father Jonathan DeFelice, O.S.B., president of the college. I sat down in his office, overlooking the commotion on the quad for an interview on Saint Anselm’s participation in hosting such high-profile events. Father Jonathan offered a candid, and intriguing bit of insight on how and why Saint Anselm College has become a must-stop on the New Hampshire Primary trail.

As the day turned to evening, I returned to the Dana Center, meeting up with the executive vice president of the college, Marie George. Together, we made our way inside the closed set to watch Charles Gibson deliver World News Tonight live on ABC. With less than ten minutes to go, Gibson took to the stage. Two minutes before air, the producers announced that everyone in the audience would be seen in several shots that would be seen on the broadcast. Thirty seconds before air, silence fell over the room, monitors throughout the hall came up with the live feed, and World News Tonight went live. A few minutes into the broadcast, George Stephanopoulos joined Mr. Gibson on stage (one that he will utilize Sunday morning for his own program) to provide commentary and analysis on Iowa results, and New Hampshire predictions. I have to say, having the headlines of the day delivered in person is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

ABC Anchor at Dana CenterBack in the workspace now, We’re monitoring Fox News programming originating from above our heads on the second floor. In about an hour, I’ll be heading outside to cover ABC’s Nightline on the quad, before calling it a night — for about five hours — and starting again before dawn on debate day.

Gregory Wallace ‘10, The New Barack Obama

January 3, 2008

Student Debate StandinsGregory Wallace, a sophomore politics major at Saint Anselm College, finds himself taking on a brand new role; that of playing presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama. As ABC continues to prepare for the candidates’ arrival, Wallace will stand-in as Sen. Obama as ABC News technicians prepare the stage for the Jan. 5 N.H. Primary Debates.

This is not going to be a simple stand in for lighting and placement though. Wallace, along with other students standing-in for the candidates, has been asked to take on the same mannerisms, voice styles, and placements of the candidates, using actual scripts that represent similar discussions that could be held during the live debate broadcast.

The interest in the debates amongst the entire campus community has been incredible, and the opportunities for the students have exceeded all expectations. The campus has been transformed from that of a liberal arts college to one that is the world stage for one of the most covered events by the media. Wallace and other students have been able to see this transformation come to life.

“Last week I was in the Dana Center and not a single set piece was installed or even on campus. And today, it is almost done. It’s fantastic to see how ABC and Fox cover an event start to finish,” comments Wallace.

Wallace has yet to fulfill his first duty as an actor on stage. After doing so, he will find himself as a personal runner for Sen. Obama. Such is the case for each stand-in during the rehearsals. We will continue to follow Wallace as he becomes closer with the candidate and immerses himself even further into the debate process.

We are pleased to bring a student’s perspective to the coverage of the the N.H. Primary Debates. Stay tuned for more debate coverage.

Primary Preparations: Cold Temps Result in Flurry of Action

January 3, 2008

Inside the Fox Box (Facing Goulet Science)A bone chilling wind is cutting through the single-digit temps on the campus of Saint Anselm College today, all while work continues at a heightened pace to prepare for the pending live broadcasts of Fox News Channel and ABC News.

On the Quad, Fox News employees and Saint Anselm College students are working in unison to finalize the Fox Box, the mobile studio that will be utilized in coming days for live programming. Inside the Cushing Student Center, students and production staff have transformed the normally quaint upper level of the student building into a working newsroom that will shortly be staffed 24 hours a day with correspondents from Fox partners around the world.

IMG_0262.JPGAt the Dana Center, ABC is putting the finishing touches on the debate set. On Thursday evening, students were acting as candidate stand-ins, helping the ABC News staff rehearse the pending back-to-back live debates on Saturday night. Next door at Davison Hall (the college dining facility) ABC staff are utilizing every corner of the building as their debate headquarters.

There is literally no corner of campus that remains untouched by the debate preprations. At the main entrance to the college a grassy area has been plowed to allow for campaign supporters to gather on debate day. The quad is collecting satellite trucks and live shot locations by the hour as additional crews arrive. In the following hours, the Carr Center will be transformed into the media file center (which will soon be home to several hundred journalists from around the world).

More Than Snow Covers Campus

January 3, 2008

Rear View of Fox Box on Quad Looking West Toward Alumni HallThe Fox Box appeared on the Saint Anselm College Quad as students were finishing their finals last semester. As I left school not much had changed. However, when I returned a few days ago the campus is now playing host to ABC and Fox. This does not mean that these news teams were simply using our buildings. Students and staff all have roles to play.

In the Dana Center, Marcia Burns, Bob Shea, and Joe Deleault are hard at work getting ready for the ABC debates on Saturday. Tickets need to be sorted. When the audience arrives the tickets need to get to the right people.

Security has to control parking. Usually around this time of year the security crew considers these weeks a break. With all of the students home for the holidays, the campus is quiet. With the New Hampshire Primary this year that all changes. Some security guards who normally work overnights switch to working days. Some may even have the chance to work with Secret Service.

The Dining Services staff has the important role of keeping the work crews well fed. And with that, turning on a dime with grace to fulfill unexpected requests like pulling together a buffet-style dinner today for the ABC crew with just two hours notice. Even the president’s private dining room in Davison is being utilized as temporary ABC office space.

Students are working as stand-ins and runners for ABC. As stand-ins they must learn the traits of the candidate they are playing. After the rehearsals each student will become a personal runner for the same candidate. Other students are busy working for Fox News preparing for their New Hampshire Primary coverage much of which will originate from the college beginning this weekend. The normally quiet Cushing Center is now abuzz with Fox technicians and production crews as we wait for the Iowa Caucus to conclude and the for the arrival on January 4 of Fox News’ on-air talent.

Everyone at Saint Anselm College is working hard to be the best host to these news teams. I look forward to the future excitement to come.

Budget Deficits and the Soaring Cost of Health Care

October 15, 2007

Opportunity 08 - Hosted and Co-sponsored by the New Hampshire Institute of PoliticsThe Brookings Institute recently co-sponsored Opportunity 08 with the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. The forum examined key domestic issues facing presidential candidates in the New Hampshire Primary, including health care and the federal budget.

Former senator Warren Rudman was joined by expert panelists from the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, including Jennifer Donahue, senior advisor for political affairs, and Jennifer Lucas, assistant professor of Politics. Panelists from Washington, D.C., included Brookings president and former Clinton Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott; former Center for Medicare and FDA Administrator Mark McClellan; and former presidential advisor and Opportunity 08 co-chair Tom Donilon.

Video and audio coverage of the forum is available for download through the Opportunity 08 Web site.

Sen. Sam Brownback Proposes Changes to Social Security System

September 5, 2007

Sen. Sam BrownbackIn this podcast, we feature a speech by republican presidential candidate Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, who spoke at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics on September 4, 2007. During his talk, Sen. Brownback outlined his proposal for reforming the Social Security System, which includes allowing people to put five percent of their taxable income into private accounts.

In his plan, workers would have the choice to remain with the current system or have the ability to save and invest for their own retirement.

After his speech, the senator joined students and faculty for an informal lunch in Davison Hall where discussion continued on Sen. Brownback’s proposed changes to Social Security as well as other issues (read related Union Leader article).

Sen. Sam BrownbackWilliam Shipman, co-author of Promises to Keep: Saving Social Security’s Dream,” and co-chair of the Cato Institute’s Project on Social Security Choice also spoke during Sen. Brownback’s appearance at the college.

Photos by Alex Witkowicz

Event Coverage: Event Photos | NECN Video | Union Leader | Boston Herald

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