(Zind) Early this week a crew of technicians seemed to be moving at time lapse speed as they transformed Dartmouth’s Spaulding Auditorium overnight into a television set.
The debate will take place in the auditorium, but six months of planning and preparations have involved many venues, departments and people at Dartmouth. Roland Adams is the college’s Director of Media Relations.
(Adams) “Interestingly, the actual number of bodies that we think we’ll have on campus who are not ordinarily here is probably less than we experience for an average hockey game. The difference is in the character of the event.”
(Zind) There may be some verbal jabs and rhetorical elbows thrown tonight, but no one’s going to be called for high sticking. What will be high are the political stakes – and Dartmouth itself will be thrust into the national spotlight.
It’s Genevieve Haas’s job to make sure the three hundred journalists covering the event are kept happy.
(Haas) “Can we make it kind of a rush?”
(Zind) As she grabs some lunch, she reflects on the last few weeks.
(Hass) “It’s been my full time job. Really a full time and a half job. I’m here late, I get here early, I was here this weekend. But I’m really enjoying it, its really exciting stuff.”
(Zind) Haas’s job is just one of the many moving parts in the complicated machinery required to pull off an event like this.
One critical task is providing security for the candidates, one of whom might be the next President of the United States.
Harry Kinne is Director of Safety and Security at Dartmouth. He’s a friendly guy, but he not willing to say too much – other than that campus security, Hanover police and the Secret Service have worked together to plan for every scenario.
(Kinne) “I don’t want to go into a lot of particulars about that but we certainly have in place, what would be fairly extraordinary security measures to insure that the debate goes as uneventfully as possible.”
(Zind) Dartmouth officials say they insisted the debate had to take place during the school year – to give students the opportunity to witness the proceedings, and, perhaps, meet the candidates.
Today is the first day of fall classes at Dartmouth.
Sophomore Shawn Stewart says he’s relishing the possibility of meeting his candidate, Barak Obama. He’s also reveling in his good fortune to be going to school in a state that gets so much attention in a political season.
(Stewart) “It’s really one of the great things about being a government student at a school in New Hampshire.”
(Zind) For VPR news, I’m Steve Zind in Hanover.