Always Be Nearby, Never Be in the Way

Face the Nation Crew Prepares For Morning Promos and Bob Schieffer's CommentaryThe Saint Anselm campus was seemingly deserted as I left my dorm at 6:15 Sunday morning to meet Bob Schieffer and his producer at their hotel to bring them back to campus for the interview with Senator John Edwards and his wife Elizabeth. I served as the runner for the crew for the day, a job that requires one always to be close at hand for an assignment, but never in the way of the action.

And such was the case: from locating a variety of local and national newspapers before 7 a.m to tracking down a few bottles of Diet Coke minutes before the Edwards campaign caravan arrived on campus, I was afforded a front row seat to the action, and a truly unique understanding of what goes into producing the interview that you may have seen on your television Sunday morning.

Face the Nation Set - A Transformed Admission Office Served as the Location for the ProgramI joined the crew outside Alumni Hall during the 7 a.m. hour to pre-tape the introduction and closing commentary to the program. I stood alongside the crew behind the camera as Bob Schieffer read his narration, introducing the broadcast from "historic Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire." During the 8 a.m. hour, I was called upon to sit in for a camera check, and was placed in the seat that Senator Edwards would occupy shortly thereafter. By 9 a.m. we welcomed Senator Edwards and Elizabeth Edwards, and were making final preparations for the live broadcast. Shortly after 10:30 a.m. I walked from the site of the live interview and into Father Jonathan's office where campaign and college staff had gathered around a TV to watch the interview being seen around the country.

In a slightly surreal atmosphere, we watched the interview as it occurred only 20 feet away. Thirty minutes passed quickly, and the show came to a close. Ushering the senator and his wife outside with other staff, we prepared for our final challenge: getting the Edwards motorcade back to Saint Anselm Drive against the flow of traffic entering the campus for move-in day. With a little luck, and a suggestion that the Edwards van drive onto the lawn, we were able to get them back to their campaign bus, and on their way to the next campaign event to be held minutes later in Manchester.

And in less than an hour the cameras were gone, the cables were coiled back into the satellite truck, and the crew was on their way to the airport. As they departed we exchanged handshakes, business cards, and the expectation that we would all see each other again soon.

Photos by Cory True '09

An Interview With CBS Journalist Bob Schieffer

Podcast Interview With Bob Schieffer 8/26/07I had a unique opportunity today to interview one of the nation's premier political journalists, Face the Nation moderator Bob Schieffer. To be in the same room to see Schieffer work is one thing, but to be able to sit down and interview him for 20 minutes is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

With a career that spans 50 years, Schieffer is CBS News' chief Washington correspondent and he has covered all four major beats in Washington, including the Whitehouse, the Pentagon, Congress, and the State Department.

He has covered every presidential campaign as well as Democratic and Republican National Conventions since 1972. Schieffer has been to New Hampshire many times over the years to report on the presidential primary and he easily admits his fondness for the important role the New Hampshire Primary holds in presidential politics.

In this interview, Shieffer discusses some of the issues with the current presidential selection system as well as the current state of journalism and how it has changed since he began his career.

Photo by Alex Witkowicz '08

A Job Well Done

Bob Schieffer and Saint Anselm College StudentsThanks to all the students and staff for an early start on this particular Sunday morning, and yet another example of Benedictine hospitality being extended to the media and presidential candidates. Traffic at the main entrance of the college looked a bit like rush hour congestion on an interstate as returning students jostled for momentum in between the Edwards campaign bus and local community members headed to Mass in the Abbey Church.

The John Edwards Campaign Bus Leaving CampusFather Jonathan's office was converted to the CBS green room, and students were successful in rounding up a few bottles of Diet Coke for Senator Edwards on a campus that is otherwise fully committed to Pepsi products. The morning's most memorable moment came when a parent walked into the admission office where Bob Schieffer was working at the reception desk before the broadcast and tried to hand over a check for tuition. Schieffer directed the parent to the business office on the second floor of Alumni Hall, and later commented that he hoped he'd sent that parent in the right direction.

The cables, cameras, and the lights were carefully packed up before CBS producers and Bob Schieffer headed back to Washington. I had not yet made it home when a CBS producer in Washington called to tell me that they were thrilled with Saint Anselm College as a venue for political coverage from New Hampshire, and that she'll definitely be looking to hire our students for their 2008 election coverage. Who could blame them?

Photos by Alex Witkowicz '08

An "Only at Saint Anselm College" Moment…

School hasn't even begun yet, but the on campus activity has already picked up, both with students, and Presidential aspirants.

 Sunday, CBS News will broadcast a live interview from Alumni Hall with Senator John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth. Although the interview will take place while a majority of the student population of Saint A's is just returning to campus and starting to move into their residence for the academic year, a number of students have arrived early to assist with the broadcast – myself included.

After speaking with CBS News producers in Washington on Friday, I met with Saint Anselm staff, and other students to set our schedules for the weekend. Although the CBS crew would be setting up on Saturday, students were not scheduled to report for duties until Sunday morning. With this plan, I went about my day, greeting new students during a round-robin orientation in the morning, and helping my roommate move in early in the afternoon.

And then my cell phone rang.

Bob Schieffer and his producer were on the road in Manchester, but had become lost in Manchester with some confusing directions provided by their hotel to get to the college. After speaking on the phone with Mr. Schieffer's producer, I was able to figure out where they were, and drive to their location. Upon locating their car, and escorting them onto the Saint Anselm College campus, we met briefly with the on-site technical crew before I returned them to their hotel for a busy afternoon of preparations.

I soon arrived back on campus, and reported to the Alumni Hall office where the interview would be set. The crew had placed their cameras, lights and audio equipment but were lacking a few pieces of furniture needed to "fill out" the shot. With a shopping list in hand of: academic books, a lamp, a few end tables and flowers, I set out to do my best. My first stop was none other than the Presidents office where not only did I find our College President working, but also found everything on my list! With the assistance of the crew, Father Jonathan and I relocated several items from his office to the interview set which will be seen in the background during the broadcast on Sunday morning.

…And so goes just another day in the amazing experience that is the Presidential Primary season; only at Saint Anselm college…

CBS's "Face the Nation" to Broadcast Live From Saint Anselm College This Sunday, Aug. 26

Face the Nation at Saint Anselm CollegeSaint Anselm College is pleased to host Bob Schieffer and the CBS News crew for a special live broadcast of Face the Nation, this Sunday, August 26.

Sen. John Edwards and his wife Elizabeth are this week's guests on the program that will air from Alumni Hall beginning at 10:30 a.m. EST.

Check your local CBS listings for schedule information and be sure to tune in! Then visit the Saint Anselm College Blog for behind-the-scenes photos and reports following the program.

Sen. John Edwards and His Wife ElizabethFor viewers in the Manchester, N.H. or Boston area, Face the Nation can be seen on WBZ-TV 4.

* This will be a closed broadcast and not filmed with a live audience; no tickets will be issued.

Jennifer Donahue: McCain Understands the Granite State

Jennifer Donahue on CNNIn a recent opt-ed published in the Boston Globe, Jennifer Donahue, NHIOP senior advisor for political affairs, wrote about Sen. John McCain's chances in New Hampshire given the recent shake up in his campaign staff.

"Senator John McCain just spent two weekends in a row in New Hampshire. Unlike some of the candidates who didn't run in 2000, he understands two important things about the state's presidential primary contest. One is the importance of the August before the primary. In August 1999, McCain solidified his base in New Hampshire, while George W. Bush all but ignored the state. McCain won the primary, though not the nomination.

The other thing McCain knows is that New Hampshire gives supposedly faltering front-runners a chance to come back. By campaigning intensely in the state, Al Gore effectively stamped Bill Bradley out in August 1999. Similarly, as insurgent Howard Dean focused on Iowa over New Hampshire in August 2003, John Kerry faced frustrated voters in New Hampshire — and ended up winning.

What McCain has in common this year with Gore and Kerry is that the press anointed all three as front-runners before the campaign began. The expectations for such "early favorites" are often based on polls taken so early that only the candidates with existing name recognition place well.

These expectations are also impossible to meet. As obscure candidates become known and gain a little ground in the polls, it suddenly looks as though the front-runner is in free fall. The money race is then affected by the press coverage and poll numbers, which make it harder for the "early favorites" to raise funds."

To read Jennifer Donahue's opt-ed in its entirety, visit www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/08/21/mccain_understands_granite_state.

Photo by Doug Minor

Watch the CNN Debates on the Web

CNN Debates Moderator Wolf BlitzerDid you miss the original TV broadcasts of the CNN Democratic and Republican debates on June 3 and 5? CNN has made the debate coverage available to the public without restrictions – a first from a major news network.

Saint Anselm College has posted the video from the debates online for public viewing at http://saintanselm.blip.tv or you can watch the debates in the video player at the bottom of this post. Because of large file sizes, each debate is divided into four parts (Parts 1-4).

Debate Footage on CNN.com
You may also watch the debates on the CNN Web site through their video stream feed or download the debates for playback on your computer or video iPod.

Saint Anselm Debate Footage

Player Directions: To skip ahead in the above player, just click the forward button. To go back, click the back button. The video starts with the democratic debates on June 3. Click the forward button four times to listen to the CNN Republican debate.

Students Interviewed by NYC's Fox Affiliate About Presidential Race

Students Fox InterviewDuring the June 5 Republican debate, five Saint Anselm College students were interviewed in the spin room by Dick Brennan of New York City's Fox 5 affiliate. The students (in order of appearance in the TV interview) included, Greg Wallace '10, Sara Kallock '09, Robyn Dangora '10, Mark Grasso '10, and Jen Taylor '10.

You can view the interview on the Fox 5 Web site at http://www.myfoxny.com. A short commercial precedes the interview.

Political Junkies: Students See What Goes on Behind the Scenes of the Debate
Elissa Rauth '08 and M.E. Reidy '07 were interviewed on June 5 by the Union Leader about their work as runners for CNN. In the article, they talk about some of the many important jobs they had during the debates from working the candidate green rooms to standing in on the CNN set for lighting, sound, and camera checks.

You can read the article at http://www.unionleader.com.

BBC News Interviews Prof. Dean Spiliotes and Matt St. John '09

IMG_1996.JPGDuring last week's CNN debates, nearly 600 media descended upon Saint Anselm College, including a global contingent of reporters from Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, among others.

Prof. Dean Spiliotes, director of research at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics and Matt St. John '09 were both quoted in a BBC News story over the weekend. A photograph of St. John was included with the story. You can read an excerpt below and view the full story at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6728595.stm.

Want to meet the next president of the United States? Move to New Hampshire and you stand a good chance.

In a country of some 300 million people, the state's 1.3 million residents are perhaps the most heavily-canvassed and targeted voters of any in the nation, bar Iowa.

Last week each party's candidates flocked to New Hampshire for the latest televised debates, as they seek the all-important nomination to run for president in 2008.

It's not for lack of attention on the part of the candidates, however.

Rather, such is the buzz surrounding some of the frontrunners that instead of meeting them at a cosy coffee morning, people have found themselves in a crowd of hundreds or even thousands.

Senators Clinton and Obama have attracted large crowds to events

Dean Spiliotes, director of research at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, says this has been particularly true of some events held by Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

"Early on some of Obama's advisors suggested in the media they would do something a bit differently from the traditional New Hampshire model," he says.

"They are still doing some of these larger events – but also the smaller ones. But it's difficult. Part of it is that they are popular candidates."

He warns it is important not to underestimate the power of retail, or face-to-face, politicking – especially in a state where the residents are very switched-on.

"Voters meet the candidates directly and in general, what we have found is that voters seek out candidates that they already have an affinity for," he says.

"Then they get more excited and so bring in their friends and their families and it has a multiplying effect. It helps the candidates mobilize networks of supporters."

Both the Clinton and Obama campaign teams have said they intend to organize more small-scale events.

That should come as a relief to 19-year-old Matt St. John, who moved to New Hampshire to study precisely because he wanted to meet the political movers and shakers.

"I realized it was a different world," he says. "I've seen every presidential candidate at least once or twice, I've seen Hillary Clinton, Karl Rove, President and Laura Bush."

"There are 18 candidates. If I go to 18 events and ask the same questions of them all, I will be able to ask the next president of the United States something that is important to me."

"It's an amazing opportunity to have as a 19-year-old."

For the full story, visit http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6728595.stm.

The Presidential Debates: the Highlight of My Senior Year

Just two weeks prior to the CNN presidential debates, I was sitting in Sullivan arena as a graduate of the class of 2007. As a nursing major who has always been passionate about following politics, the debates were most definitely the highlight of the end of my time here at Saint Anselm as an undergraduate.

The perks of being a CNN “Runner” were far more than I ever imagined. Below is a picture of fellow runners and me as we were “stand-ins” on Saturday’s dress rehearsal. I was soon dubbed “Senator Clinton” by the stage director as I was standing at her podium. It was truly an awesome feeling knowing I was standing on the stage of our next President of the United States.

Over the course of my 4 days working as a Runner, I saw the incredible work that goes on behind the scenes. When it came to both debate nights there was an excitement in the air amongst every staff member. Personally, I was so lucky as to meet and shake the hands of several candidates. Trying to act professionally, I remained cool, calm, and collected but internally I was buzzing with enthusiasm.

At a CNN reception following Tuesday night’s debate I was fortunate enough to chat with Wolf Blitzer. Our conversation was the perfect way to end one of the most exciting events of my life. I described to him the immense appreciation I now have for what goes on behind a major media event, TV shows, and even commercials, Wolf replied “I hope it doesn’t spoil the magic for you.” When I responded “No, it greatly enhanced it” he answered, “Then we’ve done our job haven’t we?”