BBC News Interviews Prof. Dean Spiliotes and Matt St. John ‘09

June 11, 2007

IMG_1996.JPGDuring last week’s CNN debates, nearly 600 media descended upon Saint Anselm College, including a global contingent of reporters from Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, among others.

Prof. Dean Spiliotes, director of research at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics and Matt St. John ‘09 were both quoted in a BBC News story over the weekend. A photograph of St. John was included with the story. You can read an excerpt below and view the full story at

Want to meet the next president of the United States? Move to New Hampshire and you stand a good chance.

In a country of some 300 million people, the state’s 1.3 million residents are perhaps the most heavily-canvassed and targeted voters of any in the nation, bar Iowa.

Last week each party’s candidates flocked to New Hampshire for the latest televised debates, as they seek the all-important nomination to run for president in 2008.

It’s not for lack of attention on the part of the candidates, however.

Rather, such is the buzz surrounding some of the frontrunners that instead of meeting them at a cosy coffee morning, people have found themselves in a crowd of hundreds or even thousands.

Senators Clinton and Obama have attracted large crowds to events

Dean Spiliotes, director of research at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, says this has been particularly true of some events held by Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

“Early on some of Obama’s advisors suggested in the media they would do something a bit differently from the traditional New Hampshire model,” he says.

“They are still doing some of these larger events - but also the smaller ones. But it’s difficult. Part of it is that they are popular candidates.”

He warns it is important not to underestimate the power of retail, or face-to-face, politicking - especially in a state where the residents are very switched-on.

“Voters meet the candidates directly and in general, what we have found is that voters seek out candidates that they already have an affinity for,” he says.

“Then they get more excited and so bring in their friends and their families and it has a multiplying effect. It helps the candidates mobilize networks of supporters.”

Both the Clinton and Obama campaign teams have said they intend to organize more small-scale events.

That should come as a relief to 19-year-old Matt St. John, who moved to New Hampshire to study precisely because he wanted to meet the political movers and shakers.

“I realized it was a different world,” he says. “I’ve seen every presidential candidate at least once or twice, I’ve seen Hillary Clinton, Karl Rove, President and Laura Bush.”

“There are 18 candidates. If I go to 18 events and ask the same questions of them all, I will be able to ask the next president of the United States something that is important to me.”

“It’s an amazing opportunity to have as a 19-year-old.”

For the full story, visit

The Presidential Debates: the Highlight of My Senior Year

June 7, 2007

Just two weeks prior to the CNN presidential debates, I was sitting in Sullivan arena as a graduate of the class of 2007. As a nursing major who has always been passionate about following politics, the debates were most definitely the highlight of the end of my time here at Saint Anselm as an undergraduate.

The perks of being a CNN “Runner” were far more than I ever imagined. Below is a picture of fellow runners and me as we were “stand-ins” on Saturday’s dress rehearsal. I was soon dubbed “Senator Clinton” by the stage director as I was standing at her podium. It was truly an awesome feeling knowing I was standing on the stage of our next President of the United States.

Over the course of my 4 days working as a Runner, I saw the incredible work that goes on behind the scenes. When it came to both debate nights there was an excitement in the air amongst every staff member. Personally, I was so lucky as to meet and shake the hands of several candidates. Trying to act professionally, I remained cool, calm, and collected but internally I was buzzing with enthusiasm.

At a CNN reception following Tuesday night’s debate I was fortunate enough to chat with Wolf Blitzer. Our conversation was the perfect way to end one of the most exciting events of my life. I described to him the immense appreciation I now have for what goes on behind a major media event, TV shows, and even commercials, Wolf replied “I hope it doesn’t spoil the magic for you.” When I responded “No, it greatly enhanced it” he answered, “Then we’ve done our job haven’t we?”

And So It Ends…

June 5, 2007

It’s hard to believe, but after five of the longest days I can remember,we’re done with the debates — for now. The candidates have departed, the media is packing, and even the CNN folks are starting to tear down their extensive array here in the media center. Although Anderson Cooper is still live on the network, the majority of the CNN folks are moving through the Cushing Student Center where a reception is being held for all of those involved in the production.

Before returning here to blog, I made a quick stop at the reception, and was greeted by the CNN executives, technical workers and on-air journalists who have been so welcoming and helpful over the past week. It seems impossible, but in about a day over 300 staff will pack up and dissapear, moving on to new assignments around the country, and around the world.

…And so it ends…for now.

The Republicans Are Here

June 5, 2007

IMG_1914.JPGT-10 minutes until the Republican Debate begins. I’ve been roaming the campus since 3 p.m. this afternoon taking photos and trying to capture all the excitement on campus. I started my afternoon taking photos of supporters and protesters at the entrance to the college on Saint Anselm Drive and then traveled down to Sullivan Arena for a look behind the scenes.

You can view the the photos on Flickr at A Flash slide show is available at Be sure to check back later this evening and tomorrow morning for additional photos submitted by the team of photographers covering the debate.

I’ll watch the debate in the media filing center and then travel over to the “spin room” in Stoughtenburg Gymnasium at the conclusion of the debates.

CNN Reporter John King Speaks With Students

June 5, 2007

CNN Political Correspondent John KingCNN Chief National Correspondent John King spoke this morning with 15 Saint Anselm College students assisting the network with debate preparations. The informal conversation covered everything from how King broke into TV journalism to his work covering six presidential elections and reporting from south Asia following the 2004 tsunami.

King explained the importance of getting outside of Washington and New York and visiting small-town America to get the real perspective on the issues. “The best thing you can do whether you want to cover city hall or the White House is to go visit a community you’ve never been to before and sit in the back seat of a school committee meeting and listen… that’s where the issues that matter are discussed,” said King.

On the current front loading of the presidential primaries, King thinks a spread out system of primaries is better for the country and for the two political parties. “There is a balance that can preserve and protect Iowa and New Hampshire and the charm at the beginning of the calendar and bring some of the [other states] up. How to rotate or regulate that is the hard part.”

CNN Political Correspondent John King and Saint Anselm College StudentsKing discussed how TV journalists in his position have to always be mindful of the information they are reporting. “If you are talking about stuff that is sensitive, you will, in the course of your speaking, move financial markets,” he said, recounting a specific instance where he was reporting from the lawn of the White House following the resignation of President Clinton’s Treasury Secretary Robert Rubins in July 1999.

TV is an entirely different medium than print. It’s in many cases radio, since people are going about their daily lives and listening rather than watching. On TV, you need to get people’s attention.

“An average TV live shot is about a minute and a half, so the pictures have to complement what I’m saying. I’ve got to get you to watch, so I need a line or two at the top that makes you stop what you are doing and look at the TV.” said King.

“You get one shot, so you better choose your words carefully.”

For the complete conversation in its entirely, click on the audio file included with this post.

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We’ve Got the Issues with 96.9 FM Talk

June 5, 2007

Although the main action was up on the hilltop Sunday night, where the eight Democratic candidates squared off in their first debate in the first-in-the-nation primary state, the action continued at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics where 96.9 FM Talk radio personalities Jay Severin, Jim Braude, and Margery Eagan broadcast spirited post-debate analysis in front of a live audience in the NHIOP Auditorium.

Callers from the region and New Hampshire natives in the audience peppered the trio with questions and issues were discussed and debated ranging from supporting the troops in Iraq to the future of the New Hampshire Primary. Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico joined the fray by phone and former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel participated live in the NHIOP Auditorium.

The 96.9 FM Talk insight and analysis continues tonight with Jay Severin and Michael Graham as the Republican candidates take the stage. The broadcast will again be open to the public with a debate watch starting at 7 and at 9, 96.9 FM Talk will begin their live broadcast. Join us down at the NHIOP to hear what the issues are and what they means for the 2008 Presidential election.

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