I watched last night’s presidential debate from the Republican Party viewing event at Bank One Ballpark. The security at the ballpark was very tight, as you would expect, but everything went smooth. It took us about 20 min to get through the security screening. The tickets that they used were color coded and ours were coded for the second level. It soon became evident that there were more tickets for the second level then there were seats. This was quickly resolved by allowing people to go up the third level and allowing yellow ticket people (second level color) to sit in the lower levels. All in all, the crowd was large, between 20,000 – 25,000 by my guess. The place was about half full – much bigger than the last several Diamondbacks games.
Before the debate started there were a couple of speakers that I did not hear too much because we were walking around looking for a place to sit. I think one of the speakers was probable the Arizona Republican Party chairman. After these speakers that most people missed they had some musical entertainment, a country band, but I never did hear who it was. Maybe the name was Aaron Tibasomething, I just don’t follow country music and their small sound system was swallowed by the size of the park and the crowd.
Once the debate started the real action began. Now, I must confess that I have not watched the previous 2 debates in their entirety. I have watched parts and read a lot of reporting covering the debates, but I just have a tough time watching them. The crowd did exactly what you would expect from a partisan crowd, they booed Kerry and cheered Bush but this made it tough at times to hear what was being said.
From what I heard and saw I thought the President did much better this time around. He seemed comfortable and well prepared for what many people though would be his weakest topic – domestic issues. I felt that he did fall back too much on the issue of education and the No Child Left behind act. This point was well made the first time through and he should have used a different approach later in the debate. It is a poor debate tactic to repeat yourself unless absolutely necessary and I didn’t think it was necessary.
Kerry, on the other hand, seemed stunned by the president’s aggressiveness, but he kept his cool. He too, was very repetitive in his arguments; most every issue that came up was going to be solved by repealing the tax cuts. He seemed very awkward when the topic came to his faith, seemed like a topic he was not comfortable with. The president was passionate but you could see that he was trying to restrain his enthusiasm. Another interesting point that I thought went against Kerry was the point when Bob Schieffer asked about the impotence of the strong women in their lives. The President really answered this question with conviction and the emotion was genuine, Kerry was totally caught unprepared for this. I don’t think he as ever, really, considered this. His ‘joke’ about how they all ‘married up’ was telling and sad. Not a good moment for Kerry.
I was really surprised with the performance of Bob Schieffer as the moderator. He asked very relevant questions and did not spare either candidate the tough questions. Some of this I am sure is due, plainly, to a professional journalist doing his job, but some of it had to be the fact that he is a CBS journalist and that news team is in real need of some fresh credibility.
In the end, however, a debate rarely changes the world. I think most people already know each candidate’s position on these topics. Each side will see what they want to see – their guy won hands down. It would take a MAJOR blunder by a candidate to truly impact the race and I don’t think either side made any major mistakes. A very good debate, in my opinion.
After the debate the crowd at the BOB eagerly anticipated the arrival of the president. Aaron Whatshisname came back out and played a few more songs to a much more energetic crowd. Everyone was excided about the president’s performance. The debate ended at 7:30 pm, which surprised me, and the president arrived at about 8:00 pm. He was accompanied by Sen. McCain and Sen. Kyle and their wives. The president was accompanied by the First Lady and their daughters. The crowd, of course, went nuts when the president was introduced. I expected that the president would not take very long and I was right. Both the Senators spoke briefly as did the president, they were all done by 8:15 to 8:20. I really wish he had spoken a little longer and really follow-up some the points that he made in the debate; it was not to be.
I really had a great time. It would have been better is the food lines had been shorter and if they had been serving beer. It was neat to be part of history.