A View from the Press Room

A steady cadence was heard as the Barack Obama marching band made its way to the back of the University of Texas recreational center. Followed by a stream of energetic Obama backers with signs and banners, the band was greeted by an equally passionate mob of Hillary Clinton supporters. A sea of signs and flags waved behind the debate venue while the chanting mob was contained behind large white letters spelling out their candidate’s names. A yelling match broke out between the two campaign rallies as they peered at each other over the invisible dividing line. Journalist and photographers waited outside the press entrance for their briefcases, laptops and camera bags to be searched by the airport-like security. Television vans and camera crews set up alongside the press entrance while a slue of Ron Paul supporters gathered beside the press. One Paul fan even donned a giant ‘Don’t Tax Me, Bro’ poster. Nearly two hours before the debate even began, a line of almost 2,000 lucky ticket holders snaked through the trees as they waited to enter the debate. Some of those standing in line where decked out in burnt orange uniforms and white shoulder tassels as the UT band prepared to play prior to the event.That’s DebatableThe debate between the presidential hopefuls got a little heated after 45 minutes of the exchange. Though the candidates agreed on many issues until the topics of plagarism and health care were brought about by the moderators.At one point, the press filing room filled with “oohs” of disbelief as Clinton made a comment about the originality of Obama’s speeches, saying they are “not change you can believe in, but change you can Xerox.” Members of the press also looked up from their laptops after Clinton took another dig at Obama by referring to a supporter who when asked by MSNBC to site an accomplishment of Obama’s was at a loss for words.Obama responded to these jabs by detailing his 20 years of public service as a community organizer and a legislator. He also pointed out that it was his national co-chair who lent him the line to use for his speeches.Spin ZoneRed CNN banners hung overhead as hundreds of journalists, photographers, and television crews entered the spin room, a space where members of the press are able to ask questions to official representatives from each campaign.The press stood shoulder to shoulder extending voice recorders and taking notes. Flashes continued to light the room as representatives answered questions from various newspapers, magazines, news blogs and television stations.”It is very different to see this in person and really get to see how challenging it is for the students,” UT Dean of Lyndon B. Johnson School Jim Steinberg said. “No matter how many times they’ve debated, they’re able to articulate their views and show how they would be a leader and that’s something that we got to see here tonight.”Aware of the recent polls, many officials discussed the importance of the Texas delegates in the state’s upcoming primary vote March 4. “I don’t think the Democratic Party, delegates, superdelegates or any kind of delegate are going to nominate a candidate for president who cannot carry a big diverse state that represents the diversity of the country,” Texas Democratic Party representative Gary Mauro said.

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