October 13, 2004
The Tribune rounds up news, events and other tidbits about today’s presidential debate at Arizona State University.
PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ
It’s a good thing the Secret Service is on the job at Arizona State University these days because it seems like every local elected official showed up Tuesday night to a ritzy dinner put on by ASU and President Michael Crow. The turnout even drew Hugh Downs, Walter Cronkite, Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Gov. Janet Napolitano. The menu included Kona crusted tenderloin, sugar cane prawns and cranberry mousse for dessert. Pat McMahon was master of ceremonies at the event, held to thank donors who helped ASU raise a portion of the $2.5 million needed to host the debate.
President Bush and Sen. John McCain had dinner together Tuesday night at Richardson’s restaurant, 16th Street and Bethany Home Road, Phoenix.
The selection of topics for tonight’s presidential debate are at the sole discretion of the moderator, Bob Schieffer of CBS’ "Face the Nation."
However, approximately 16,000 people nationwide, queried after the two previous debates by the folks at the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, have a thing or two they’d like to hear about.
Their top recommendations: Jobs and the economy (24 percent), education (16 percent), health care (15 percent), energy and the environment (9 percent), taxes (5 percent) and Social Security (4 percent).
ACCURACY IS IMPORTANT
ASU administrators have taken every opportunity to remind members of the out-of-town media exactly where they are. Every opportunity.
The interior of the media tent is lined with ASU banners. From one vantage point Tuesday, 28 ASU banners were visible.
The banners are in addition to bumper sticker-size ASU signs taped on each of several dozen TV sets in the room. The TVs were set to ASU’s public television station, KAET-TV (Channel 8).
Another fact: The million-dollar newsroom, which is officially called the Media Filing Center, covers 32,000 square feet. It is believed to be the largest temporary newsroom in the world.
No word on who keeps track of these things.
THEY WORK ALL THE ANGLES
And just in case any reporter or photographer somehow could possibly have missed the banners and signs in the Media Filing Center, ASU distributed ASU logo T-shirts with the press kits.
Naturally, the shirts are maroon — with a white ASU logo on the front and a full-color 2004 Presidential Debate design showing Gammage Auditorium on the back.
The shirts also illustrate why outsourcing ought to be a topic for the candidates: They were were made in Honduras.
EXPELLED FOR CHEATING
More than 15,000 people applied for between 25 and 100 seats set aside for students inside Gammage Auditorium. ASU picked 300 names at random. But they made the lucky winners come in and prove they were really students.
Turns out about a third of them were just regular citizens of the nonmatriculating type trying to get in on the student tickets. Now, says Terri Schafer of ASU’s media relations office, tickets will be issued in the order of who was drawn first until they run out.
Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman tried to hold a news conference Tuesday at the Twin Palms Hotel across from Gammage Auditorium at about the same time President Bush landed in Phoenix. That must have been why so few television news crews attended Hallman’s gig, said Twin Palms front desk worker Jim Curran. "It looked like the only people here for the mayor were Telemundo," he said.
THE SHOW WILL GO ON
A Maricopa County Superior Court judge has ended Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik’s lawsuit to stop the debate or let him on the stage with Bush and Sen. John Kerry. The judge said he was troubled that the Libertarians waited until the last minute when they knew about the Tempe debate for a year.
FILL IN THE BLANK
Protest is an art form for Chuck Banaszewski, 32, a doctoral student in theater at ASU.
Wearing a T-shirt that said only "Protester," he held a large empty picture frame Tuesday in front of the Memorial Union. When asked what he’s protesting, he asks back, "What would you protest?"
His point? He wants people to think about what makes them mad and what they can do about it.
"Maybe they’ll go home and think about it, and become active somewhere down the line," he said.
KNXV-TV (Channel 15) is working with the Tribune for a live postdebate special, "Democracy 2004: The Final Debate,’’ which will air from 8 to 9 p.m. today.
In-studio guests will be joined by more than 200 audience members representing undecided Democrats, Republicans and independents. They will talk about the debate and whether they were swayed by either candidate. The audience will be asked to determine who they think won the debate.