by Paul Kashmann
If you think the current tornadic bluster that is the 2012 presidential campaign has
been a bit too in-your-face, prepare yourself – the whole dog and pony
show is headed straight for the Mile High City.
The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) has
declared that the first of four face-to-face meetings of the candidates for our
nation’s highest offices will take place Wed., Oct. 3, 7p.m., at the University
of Denver. President Barack Obama will square off with Republican challenger
Mitt Romney in Magness Arena at the Ritchie Center
For Sports & Wellness for a 90-minute discussion digging into matters of
Vice President Joe Biden will debate
Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan, on Thur., Oct. 11, at Centre College in
Danville, Ky.; while Romney and Obama get two more chances to distinguish
themselves – Tues., Oct. 16 at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, N.Y.,
and Mon., Oct. 22, at Lynn University, in Boca Raton, Fla.
The first organized debate between
presidential candidates was the historic 1858 meeting between Abraham
Lincoln and Stephen Douglas.
Such events were intermittent until 1976 when Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter went head to
head in a series of debates, with the tradition continuing every four years
since that time.
Before you start planning your own campaign
to wrangle a ticket to the DU event, you should know that they simply aren’t
out there. The university has been granted a limited number of tickets that will be given to
students through a lottery system. Staff and faculty – and the curious
public – are not invited.
While additional tickets have been given to
the Republican and Democratic campaigns, it is anticipated that the total live
audience will be far below the 7,000-10,000 people Magness
Arena has seated for similar events in the past.
executive director of the CPD explained that the live audience is of little
consequence to the debate. “This is a made-for-TV event,” he stated. “It will truly be a documentary. That’s
our aim.” There will be no lights on the audience, and any applause, cheering
or heckling will result in removal from the arena.
The vast majority of the 3,000 journalists
expected to attend will be relegated to “Spin Alley,” set up in Hamilton
Gymnasium, across the corridor from the debate hall.
The moderator for the DU debate will be Jim
Lehrer, host of the PBS Newshour. The evening will be divided into six segments of approximately 15
minutes each devoted to topics selected by Lehrer. He will open each segment
with a question, to which the candidates will have two minutes to respond. The
balance of the time in the segment will allow for more free- form discussion.
There will be no opening statement, but each candidate will have two minutes
for a closing statement at the end of the evening.
The DU campus will be closed for normal
business on Oct. 3, with only essential staffing in place. The U.S. Secret
Service is expected to establish a fenced security perimeter extending well
past the 400,000-square-foot Ritchie Center complex.
For those in the DU community not chosen to
attend the debate, a “Debate Fest” celebration will take place on Carnegie
Green, just west of University Blvd. and south of Evans Ave., 3-9p.m.
This celebration will feature speakers,
music, food trucks and a debate-watch party where participants can view the
main event on big-screen TV. “Issues Alley” (the gateway to Debate Fest) will
provide supporters of a wide variety of social causes and beliefs the chance to
educate and inform “in a climate of civility and mutual respect,” according to
a DU communique.
Debate Fest is open to the student body,
faculty and staff of DU as well as neighbors in the nearby University Park,
West University and Platt Park neighborhoods. DU spokesman, Chase Squires, toldThe Profile that “Neighbors who would like a ticket (free, but limited) should request
them through their neighborhood association, who can then request them through
us. This is a way for us to at least offer a small token of appreciation to our
closest neighbors who may be directly inconvenienced by the road closures,
Traffic disruptions in the area surrounding
the university could begin as early as a week prior to the debate. For security
reasons, details as to the exact location of detours and road
closures has not been announced.
The RTD light rail system will continue to
run on Oct. 3, but University Station will be closed from approximately
8a.m.-10p.m. (these times are subject to change). RTD has agreed to provide
special bus service Oct. 3 from Colorado Center Station (S. Colorado Blvd. at
E. Evans Ave.,) and the Louisiana/Pearl station (S. Pearl St. at E. Louisiana
Ave.) to the DU campus.
DU is hosting a number of free events before
the debate featuring expert and celebrity speakers who will focus on topics
relevant to 2012 campaign issues.
Free Public Events
(visit Debate2012.du.edu for exact locations and presenters, parking/transit details, and RSVP links)
Revitalizing the Citizen Voice
Wed., Sept. 12, 6-8p.m. • Carnegie Green
Science and Antiscience in the
Thur., Sept. 13, 4p.m. • Sturm Hall
Israel and the U.S. Presidential Election
Wed., Sept. 19, 7:45p.m. • Sturm Hall
Restoring Fiscal Responsibility
Fri., Sept. 21, 6p.m. • Sturm Hall
CounterPoints: Colorado’s Influence on the National Conversation
Mon., Sept. 24, 4p.m. • Sturm Hall
Voices of Experience, w/ Michael Long, CEO of Arrow
Mon., Sept. 24, 6p.m. • Newman Center for the Performing Arts
Science & Policy: Building innovative societies and
21st century diplomacy
Tues., Sept. 25, 4p.m. • Cable Center
David Sanger, New York Times White House correspondent
Thur., Sept. 20, 6p.m. • Cost TBA • Sturm Hall, Davis Auditorium
Registration information: Debate2012.du.edu. Questions,
call 303-871-4672 or email