This GOP Debate has got me totally pumped! While out to dinner at BJs, after the debate, my friends and I noticed a familiar face walk in….none other than CNN’s WOLF BLIZTER! Shortly after, more of the CNN crew arrived to have dinner with him. I am so honored to have been able to meet Wolf Blitzer; it was so nervewrecking asking him for a photo. This has got to be the best dinner on the town I have ever had! Wolf Blitzer, I hope you enjoyed UNF! SWOOP!
I, Jade Douso, was one of the lucky few to actually attend the debate.
The afternoon before was a complete fiasco for me. I decided the debate was a big enough occasion to learn how to iron my clothes. D-i-s-a-s-t-e-r. I managed to spill the boiling water from the iron onto my leg. Then I decided that after checking out the campus activities that morning, I would go home to take a nap before the debate… I tossed and turned in bed for a little long than I wanted to and ended up having twenty minutes to pull myself together.Thankfully to my awesome Fine Arts garage parking permit I received from CNN, parking wasn’t an issue and I coasted right into campus.
So one burnt leg and no dinner later I arrived at the Fine Arts Center just in time. The line was already winding its way to the parking garage. I wasn’t sure how this night was going to play out. First of all, I’m a registered Democrat. Second of all I was underdressed for the occasion. I felt naked among the sea of extreme conservatives in my average clothes– blue cotton Gap shirt and khaki pants– which I consider to be the nicest clothes in my closet.
At 6 p.m. the doors opened. We were filed into lines according to the first initial of our last name. At the end of the line we were asked for our driver’s license and checked off on the list of invitees. I received a blue wristband. Apparently the blue wristband was the one to have, V.I.P. And boy did I feel like a V.I.P.!
Once inside the Fine Arts Center I was ushered to my seat, to my surprise my favorite band, Band of Horses was playing in the background. I think I was expecting classical music and fancy manners inside the hall. The familiar sound eased my mind a bit. My seat was in Row M and to the left of me was an undecided freshman and to the right was a political science major who smelled like mothballs.
There was a lot of time to kill before the actual debate began. We were ushered to our seats a whole hour and fifteen minutes before the event was to start. Time to mingle. I spotted Mayor Alvin Brown near the stage and I made my way over for a meet and greet. After being pushed and shoved by adults acting like children I got one blurry photo of the mayor and I. The man taking the photo was the only human being on planet Earth who does not know how to work an iPhone.
The amount of energy expended trying to reach the mayor deterred me from getting up again. I found out the row behind me was the Romney campaign, who had a hard time following the rules of “not wearing supporter pins or stickers”. They would later be the death of my ears the entire debate– booing candidates and screaming “Mitt!” every chance they got.
Before the debate started the executive producer Sam Feist gave a brief speech and introduced UNF’s president John Delaney, who then introduced the Republican Party’s chairman Lenny Curry. Who after bashing Obama, introduced UNF student Lamecia Jackson (spell check?) who led the pledge of allegiance. Next Wolf Blitzer was up. He made a controversial remark saying UNF needs better public relations. Everyone was caught of guard by his sincereness. But it’s true, UNF does need better PR, not many people outside of Florida know about our campus.
The debate felt like a game show. There was a man dressed in all black with a pop star wrap around microphone telling us when to clap and when to shut up. I didn’t catch his name (I don’t think he mentioned it) so he will be mentioned as the debate ring leader. It felt a little cheesy having to clap at random moments. The candidates were like circus animals. The audience was hooting and hollering at them. The whole experience was totally bizarre.
Ron Paul, bless his heart, had trouble staying on topic of the questions. Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney just kept attacking each other’s campaigns– but uniting together to burn CNN for bringing up the subjects even though we all know they wanted to discuss them. Poor Wolf Blitzer was just doing his job, listening to the man (or quite possibly a woman) in his ear piece telling him what to ask and say. I thought he did a good job moderating the sharks.
During the last commercial break the ring leader told us not to stampede to the doors when the debate ended. Which was hard because I know we all had to pee like race horses after those three hours. I decided to hold it for a few more minutes because the candidates and CNN journalists/analysts were walking around the auditorium. Everyone was swarming Romney so I made a beeline to Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer for personal gains.
Cooper had no time to meet, he had to rush into his show, “Anderson Cooper 360″. I think the most I got was a “Hi, how are ya?” out of him.
Here’s me with “Anderson Cooper 360″ in the background.
The debate is over. I’m hungover from the day’s excitement and I think my blood sugar might be at an all time low. But it’s an experience I’ll never forget. My first political event.
I tweeted during the entire debate, follow me @jadedouso to see my reactions.
When asked if religious beliefs would affect their decisions in office, Paul said they wouldn’t affect his decisions. They would only affect his character and how he treats people.
Romney said this country is based on the Christian religion and that with any big decisions, he would refer to those beliefs.
Gingrich said that he would refer to his religion for tough decisions and that we have to fight to keep the government from taking our right to religion away.
Santorum said that the Constitution gives protection to our “God-given rights” and that if rights are given by government, they can be taken away by the government.
The commercial break went into the speaker asking Newt Gingrich about his accusation of Romney having money in Swiss bank accounts.
After Gingrich tried to pass on the question because he stated it was irrelevant and not fit for a presidential debate while nodding to Santorum, who earlier said they should be focused on other issues, Romney pursued his real answer.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if people didn’t make accusations that they wouldn’t defend here?” Romney asked.
After being prodded, Gingrich then stepped forward and attacked Romney about the issue. Romney defended himself and said he worked for what he was.
“What you accomplish in your life shouldn’t be seen as a detriment,” Romney said. “It should be seen as an asset to help America.”
The focus switched to Gingrich’s support of the flat tax.
“My goal is to shrink the government to fit the revenue, not to raise the revenue to catch up with the government,” Gingrich said.
Santorum did not agree with the flat tax, but instead supported a simplified tax system, which he said was comparable to ex-president, and Republican-loved, Ronald Reagan.
“If it’s good enough for Ronald Reagan, it’s good enough for me,” Santorum said.
After that, the subject of health was raised.
Ron Paul got a good laugh from being asked if he would release his medical records to prove he is healthy and then jokingly brought up how there are laws against age discrimination. All of the other candidates jumped to his defense, especially Gingrich.
“I also want to attest I’m confident… after watching him campaign, he’s in great shape,” Gingrich said.
Romney was asked about his views on the space program and he said that he was more interested in fixing the house market than building a colony on the moon.
Gingrich was then asked about his previous support of the space program and Gingrich stood by his statements.
Santorum stated that dreaming big is very important but going to space right now isn’t responsible.
Paul also said going to space isn’t practical on a “fun” perspective but could be important for national defense.
Gingrich said multiple times that he did not want to be beat by China in getting to the moon first, but Romney stood by the stance that it was not necessary.
Santorum also said that promising ridiculous things was not a responsible thing to do with a debt that is near 16 trillion.
All four candidates agreed that the government should not run healthcare, but Santorum stated that Romney and Gingrich’s track records show they didn’t always think and vote that way.
Santorum then attacked Romney for his “Romneycare” system he has in place in Massachusetts and said that it is far too similar to “Obamacare” for Romney to beat Obama on the issue. Romney defended his state’s healthcare system by drawing contrasts from it and Obama’s, but Santorum wasn’t buying it.
“I think they’re all wrong,” Paul said with a smile.
He went on to explain that the government should not be involved in healthcare and that fixing the healthcare system involves fixing the economy first.