At the Debate

A young reporter and I decided to watch the presidential debate in Denver on Wednesday at the University of Denver DebateFest with hundreds of college students. After a nice hot (and free) meal at the Media Center, we headed over to campus commons, but had to stop for about 45 minutes to wait for the candidates’ motorcades to pass.

These credentials got me and the kid reporter a free hot meal!

Police almost outnumbered the people lined up along the road. Cops on bikes, cops on horses, cops on bicycles, cops on carts, cops on foot. I was writing a children’s book about it in my head as we waited. We also interviewed a young family eating dinner at the foot of a tree under the yellow police tape, who were waiting for  “democracy to happen.”

When we stopped, we were hot and sweaty from our walk. It was 80 degrees and still. People were fanning themselves with campus maps. Not a breeze stirred. Just minutes before the first motorcade, I heard a loud swoosh and was almost blown off my feet by a cold hard blast. Not it was not the Silver Bullet, but it could have been. It was a cold front. The leaves of a eucalyptus tree across the street took flight in a swirl of dust. Goodbye fall, hello winter. Within about 20 minutes the temperature dropped 40 degrees.

“That’s Denver,” the young reporter said as she began to shiver. Neither of us were dressed for the outdoors.

After the motorcades (Romney with window down waving, Obama unseen behind bullet proof glass), we witnessed an ultra-liberal parade of signs, puppets, costumes, drums and horns. After wading through that, we arrived at DebateFest just as the bean bag battles winded down and the big screen TVs lighted up. We found ourselves a hay bale to sit on (or in the young reporter’s case, huddle against) and proceeded to watch disaster unfold.

I was too cold to really process it all until now, but I’m especially upset that no questions were asked about—and neither candidate brought up—the issue of women’s health care or the far right’s war against women’s health care. They talked Obamacare, Medicaid and other domestic issues, but not that.

I thought moderator Jim Lehrer’s questions were too vague and open ended, but I also thought he should have been given the ability to turn off the microphones when candidates did not obey time limits. He is a steady and experienced hand at this business, but the power went to the loudest voice and that was Romney.

Obama did not meet the challenge of having to think on his feet at all! He had prepped for Primary Election Romney, not General Election Romney. In fact, this may be the first time any of us have seen General Election Romney (GER). He was the only one on stage fired up and ready to go—with all new proposals and policies taken straight from the Obama playbook and claimed as his own. Remember that Etch-A-Sketch remark from the summer?

Who knew Romney planned to do away with pre-existing conditions and would allow parents to insure their kids to the age of 26? Who knew that his tax proposals were going to help the middle class and not the wealthy? Who knew his economic plan was NOT trickle down after all? It was an all new Romney, and no one, not even the TV talking heads, knew what to do with him at first.

Obama came out of his stupor the next morning and blasted Romney for his turn around, rightly pointing out that if you don’t know which candidate he’s going to be next, how will we know how he will govern? That’s troubling.

I’ll end with a link to this story, which a facebook friend found and posted. It is a list of the 27 myths that Romney told during his 38 minutes of speaking during the debate.

Obama, get some sleep before the next debate! I plan on watching from the comfort and warmth of my living room. I’ll be ready. Will you?

©Suzanne Freeman 2012


About Suzanne Freeman

I have been back in Austin for two years now after a 20-year absence, first in Sacramento, California, then to New York City, where I spent the last 16 years. I miss The City and the friends I left in both places, but love, love, love being back in Austin with my family. Thanks, Steve for coming with me!
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