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Delaware Debates 2010: U.S. Senate

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Once again, UD finds itself 'epicenter' of national politics

Candidates Chris Coons, left, and Christine O'Donnell.

10:39 a.m., Oct. 14, 2010----The University of Delaware once again lived up to its billing as the “epicenter” of politics as members of the national and international news media descended on the main campus in Newark for a much-anticipated U.S. Senate debate between Republican Christine O'Donnell and Democrat Chris Coons.

The Senate debate followed a U.S. House of Representatives debate last week, and drew national and international attention after O'Donnell, with the support of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and the tea party movement, upset longtime Congressman Michael N. Castle in the Republican primary.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer, co-moderator of the debate with Nancy Karibjanian of Delaware First Media, began broadcasting early in the day from a makeshift studio at South College and Amstel avenues. Later, he anchored CNN's The Situation Room from the site.

A CNN camera on The Green featured shots of the University's signature buildings throughout the day.

As the day wore on, the campus was filled with more than 160 broadcast and print journalists, including about 50 international reporters.

In addition to a packed Mitchell Hall, those on campus interested in the debate viewed the proceedings from an auditorium in Wolf Hall and in the food court at the Trabant University Center.

Outside Mitchell Hall, a public expression area was established and about 200 supporters of the two candidates turned out with signs and banners.

Inside a packed Mitchell Hall, the candidates answered questions posed by Blitzer and Karibjanian, and later responded to videotaped questions from UD students.

Following the debate, reporters had access to a “spin room,” where representatives of the candidates offered their take on the event. Also, David Wilson, assistant professor, and Jason Mycoff, associate professor, both in the Department of Political Science and International Relations, and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell addressed the press.

Thursday morning broke with several networks broadcasting from campus -- CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC and CNN.

Origins of 'epicenter'

UD was called the “epicenter” of the 2008 presidential race in a Bloomberg News story, which noted the participation of multiple alumni -- Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., and key advisers Steve Schmidt, with the campaign of Republican John McCain, and David Plouffe, with the campaign of President Barack Obama.

Bloomberg reporter Nicholas Johnston wrote, “The academic epicenter of this year's presidential election isn't, as in some years past, Harvard or Yale. It's located between Baltimore and Philadelphia at the University of Delaware.”

The University has continued to play a role as a political epicenter, bringing together Schmidt and Plouffe for presentations on campus, and this week hosting the Senate debate that became the focus of national attention.

Further adding to the University's reputation, Biden's wife, Jill, is a Blue Hen, as is New Jersey's Republican Gov. Chris Christie, whose name has been mentioned in connection with higher office.

Article by Neil Thomas Photos by Kathy Atkinson, Evan Krape and Kevin Quinlan

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National and international news media descended on the main campus in Newark for a much-anticipated U.S. Senate debate between Republican Christine O'Donnell and Democrat Chris Coons.
10/14/2010
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