College to host Oct. GOP debate
By Eliza Relman, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Thursday, April 7, 2011
The College will host a Republican presidential primary debate on Oct. 11 that will center on economic issues and be sponsored by Bloomberg Television, the Washington Post and WBIN-TV, Justin Anderson, director of media relations for the College, said in an interview with The Dartmouth.
Information about ticket distribution will be announced over the coming months, Anderson said.
“Even for students who can’t attend the debate in person, it’s a great opportunity,” government professor Deborah Brooks said. “Last time [during the 2007 debate] there were tons of related activities — viewing galleries were set up by the Rockefeller Center. Dartmouth did a great job allowing students to get involved.”
Dartmouth has long been a political hotbed during primary season because New Hampshire holds the first presidential primary in the nation. The College hosted presidential primary debates in 2007, 2004, 1999, 1988 and 1984, The Dartmouth previously reported.
While Hanover is a common campaign stop for Democratic candidates, the College generally does not tend to attract a large number of Republican candidates due to its Democratic-leaning population, according to Brooks.
“[The debate] is a wonderful opportunity since we’re going to get the opportunity to see candidates we might not have seen otherwise because they spend time in other population centers like Nashua, Salem, Manchester and Concord,” Brooks said.
Dartmouth is well positioned to host political debates, according to government professor Linda Fowler.
“This is a show as well as a political event,” Fowler said. “Media sponsors are interested in Dartmouth because it has a pretty campus, the facilities work well and [the College] knows how to put on a debate.”
Fowler said the decision to hold the debate at Dartmouth was likely not a reflection of the College’s political leanings or tendencies. Hosting the debate will, however, energize students and increase the number of student voters, according to Fowler.
“This is not a political statement by Dartmouth, or an endorsement of any candidate or party,” Anderson said. “This is an endorsement of the process as an important civic event — important for students, the College, the community and the country.”
Political groups on campus will likely mobilize to endorse specific candidates and volunteer at the event, according to College Republicans president Parker Hinman ’13.
“It’s a really great opportunity for the College, and especially for the [College Republicans], to have this important national event happening on campus,” Hinman said.
Students will not only get front-row seats to the debate, but will also be able to help at the event by organizing the audience and preparing questions, according to Fowler.
College Libertarians president Joshua Schiefelbein ’14 said the College Libertarians are also excited to get to know the positions of the Republican candidates before making a decision as to who to endorse.
“One of the special things about Dartmouth is that every four years students get a ring-side seat to the first primary in the nation,” Anderson said, “And because it’s every four years, every Dartmouth student gets an opportunity to see the person who may be the president of the United States.”
While the Democratic presidential debate hosted by the College in 2007 focused on general issues, the debate in October will focus entirely on economic issues, according to Anderson.
“This is going to be a very serious-minded event,” Anderson said. “The economy is an important issue now, will certainly be important in October and will definitely be important for the next president of the United States.”
It is too early, however, to determine which specific issues will be featured in the debate, according to Brooks.
Manchester, N.H., will also host a Republican presidential debate on June 7, according to CNN. The Union Leader, WMUR-TV and CNN will co-host the debate, CNN reported.
Staff writer Amelia Acosta contributed to the reporting of this article.