October 11, 2004
Tribune round-up of tidbits, rumors and other items about Wednesday’s presidential debate at Arizona State University.
REVVING THEIR ENGINES
Wednesday means everything to Alicia Cybulski of Mesa, a 21-year-old senior and president of the Young Democrats at the University of Arizona.
Cybulski has been waiting for four years to campaign for a Democrat, any Democrat, who could defeat Republican incumbent George Bush. With national polls showing a tight race after the first two debates, another successful night for Sen. John Kerry could push him ahead with less than three weeks until election day.
"This is the election of our lifetime," Cybulski said. "Especially after the (earlier) debates, people are really enthused about supporting John Kerry."
Cybulski was among about 75 college Democrats who spent Sunday at ASU’s Memorial Union learning how to campaign from elected officeholders and party operatives such as state chairman Jim Pederson. The students also shared ideas with each other on appealing to other collegeage voters.
Jake Geller, 25, a ASU graduate student, said the Iraq war is one of the most effective topics.
"A lot of college students are trying to pay for college by joining the National Guard and reserves," Geller said. "So there’s a lot of concern."
Most of the students who trained Sunday plan to return Wednesday to attend the Kerry debate-watching party at Tempe Beach Park.
TOWN’S TOUGHEST TICKET
ASU officials report that 15,177 students applied for a ticket lottery to watch the debate from inside Gammage Auditorium, only yards away from Bush and Kerry. That translates as one of every four students enrolled this year.
Almost none of them will get in, as ASU expects only to hand out 30 to 100 tickets. The university won’t know an exact number until Tuesday night or Wednesday because the Commission on Presidential Debates and the U.S. Secret Service are still discussing whether any balcony seats in Gammage Auditorium should be used.
If not, only 350 seats will be available, and most of those are reserved for top corporate sponsors and donors to the campaigns.
Even Arizona politicians with some weight will be watching from the outside.
"That’s me, along with everyone else who doesn’t have a spare hundred thousand (dollars)," state Attorney General Terry Goddard said. "I’ll probably just stay home."
But Goddard was quickly informed he will be one of the Democratic Party "stars" helping to host the Kerry debate watch party at Tempe Town Lake.
ONE STEP AWAY . . .
About two-thirds of the debate’s corporate sponsors and many politicos are expected to hang out Wednesday at ASU’s Old Main building, where university president Michael Crow will host an exclusive debate-watching party.
This party is so important that Crow received special permission from the Secret S ervice to "break" the extremely tight security perimeter Wednesday night.
Crow will welcome the Gammage audience about 20 minutes before the debate starts, then he’ll be escorted by federal agents out of the auditorium to move over to Old Main.
KNXV-TV (Channel 15) news is partnering with the Tribune to find 200 undecided voters. We’ll watch the Tempe presidential debate in the KNXV studios and then ask the undecideds who wins the "Valley Vote." Go to www.abc15.com if you’re interested in participating.