Wow! I can truly say that I have never had an experience quite like I had last night! I was one of the lucky few who received a ticket to the Presidential 2008 Town Hall Debate at Belmont!
Although the debate didn’t start until 8PM, I was asked to arrive at an off-site venue at 4PM for security checks. It wasn’t too much different from airport security, but the Secret Service was everywhere! I was grateful that a few of my friends had also received tickets and once we arrived at Belmont (we were all shuttled there from the off-site venue) we all stood around for a few hours happily discussing current events and the political candidates. Even though there were both Democrats and Republicans present in the conversation, it was respectful and fun to talk to peers who cared as deeply about the political future of our country as I did.
Once we were finally allowed into the Curb Event Center, it was really exciting to see how much the arena had changed from a normal basketball court to a live set! While waiting for the debate to begin, the students in my section spent the time picking out important people in the crowd. In attendance last night was Belmont’s Brad Paisley and Josh Turner (along with their wives), Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and Al Gore. There were several other Nashville stars and political figures there, but those were the ones we easily spotted.
Once the debate began it seemed to fly by as we watched Senators Obama and McCain listen to voters ask questions and answer. As viewers at home saw, the debate often got very intense, but in the Curb Event Center there seemed to be an aire of positivity despite most of my previous feelings about politicians.
In my opinion it was an excellent debate and I wouldn’t say either candidate “won” the debate. However, I would say that McCain did much better job working the crowd and Obama did a better job working the camera. If anything, I think I saw the humanity of each candidate more than I ever realized I would. Even though they are running to become the president of the most powerful country in the world, both Obama and McCain are just normal people trying to help a country they both love.
That being said, I did make my decision to vote for Senator McCain because of this debate. It was truly a once in a life time experience and I’m so grateful that our university president, Dr. Fisher, worked so hard to bring this historic event to Belmont.