Behind the Scenes with the Saint Anselm Runners

Saint Anselm students stand in on the debate stage

Saint Anselm students stand in on the debate stage

“I cannot even put into words this experience,” said Lyndsay Robinson ’14. "Working the debate is such a surreal experience – you jump right from the classroom into reality,” said Abigail Krusemark ’14. Krusemark flew in all the way from Kansas City, Missouri to work the debate. She and about 40 fellow Saint Anselm College students have been working diligently with CNN over the past six days to prepare for
tonight’s big event.

CNN hired the student “runners” to perform a host of tasks, including filling in for the candidates on the debate stage, helping out with live television shots on the quad, and setting up the “spin room” for interviews following tonight’s debate.

"As a runner you have to be prepared for the unexpected,” said Krusemark. “Yesterday, I met with CNN anchors, participated in the debate run-through, helped with the Don Lemon broadcast, and took a wild ride in a golf cart."

“CNN has put us to work hard, and they have really showed us what goes on behind the scenes,” said Robinson.

Robinson, Krusemark and all of the other debate runners have agreed on one thing – “it has been a once in a lifetime experience,” and they are so proud to be Saint Anselm College students.

"Our school has been transformed from a place of learning into a political zoo,” said Krusemark. “But, it's still home!"

"Can You Be Live at 3:15?"

CNN's Jessica Yellin meets with Saint Anselm students

CNN's Jessica Yellin meets with Saint Anselm students

What's the most interesting story you've ever covered? How do you interview someone you disagree with? Who would you like to interview that you haven't interviewed yet? Students in the Introduction to Human Communication class had plenty of questions for Jessica Yellin, CNN's national political correspondent. Communication professor Sherry Shepler welcomed the reporter into her class on the morning of the Republican debate. The class heard about Yellin's early experiences climbing up the network ladders from local news to junior White House correspondent to her current prominent position. Her main advice was to be curious and persistent and always DOUBLE CHECK.

"It's exhilarating," she said. But it is a hectic and unpredictable life because of the "24 hourness of the news cycle." She is ready to go when the question is "Can you go live at 3:15?"

She would like to interview Michelle Obama and Sarah Palin. The most interesting political story she has covered: the Obama campaign. And, she loves the way New Hampshire voters are so engaged in the political process.

Yellin also asked students their opinions about the candidates and the issues to be debated tonight on the stage of what was until last week their hockey arena. Maybe she will include their views in her next broadcast!

Site of Republican Debate is College Run by World’s Oldest Religious Order

The following excerpt and video appeared on CNN's Belief Blog. Saint Anselm College was founded and is run by the Benedictines, a Catholic order founded in the 6th century. It claims to be the world’s oldest religious order. The school has hosted Republican and Democratic presidential debates in previous election cycles, sometimes drawing criticism for appearing to get involved in partisan politics.

But Dale Kuehne, professor of politics at the college at Saint Anselm, defended the school's role in the political arena.

“Why I think it makes sense to have a debate at a Benedictine university is that the rule of St. Benedict says every visitor should be treated as Christ himself,” Kuehne says.

“If you talk to people about the events at Saint Anselm, they would of felt that hospitality… regardless of their political or religious position.”

The school’s website says that “Saint Anselm shapes the kind of leader the world is hungry for; not only smart, but good.”

To read the complete article, please visit the CNN Belief Blog.

Video Tour of GOP Debate Set With CNN D.C. Bureau Chief Sam Feist

Since Wednesday, June 8, we've been watching the debate venue come together in Sullivan Arena. What is normally home to Saint Anselm Hawks' Hockey has been transformed into a first rate debate venue ready to take on the Republican presidential candidates.

We were fortunate to get a tour of the debate venue from Executive Producer Sam Feist who is also Washington D.C. Bureau chief for the network. The New Hampshire Republican Presidential Debate takes place on Monday, June 13, 2011, at 8 p.m. EST on CNN.

The GOP Debate will also incorporate social media into the mix. Facebook users who "like" the "John King, USA" page can participate by adding their comments to a real-time conversation during the debate. On Twitter, CNN will be using #CNNdebate to organize the discussion and select tweets to be included in the stream of comments from and And don't forget to follow along with Saint Anselm College on Twitter @saintanselm or on our Facebook page. We're posting regular updates pre- and post-debate showing all the action on campus

Video Tour of the CNN Election Express

Joshua Rubin, producer on the CNN Election Express, gave Saint Anselm College an inside look at CNN's mobile news bureau. The bus, which has become a familiar backdrop during live shots in front of Saint Anselm's Alumni Hall, has found a home on the quad this week in advance of the June 13, 2001 New Hampshire Republican Presidential Debate at the college.

Four years ago, the CNN Express arrived at Saint Anselm for its first public appearance. The state-of-the-art bus, which has seen substantial upgrades since its last appearance at the college in June 2007, is designed for on-the-go reporting and serves as news gathering resource for the network. Since its last visit to campus, the bus has been across the country, covering politics, the economy, and deploying to breaking news stories.

You can follow along with Joshua Rubin, and the bus on Twitter, @CNNexpress.

Thanks for the tour Joshua!

Standing In

Saint Anselm students stand in for debate participants

Saint Anselm students stand in for debate participants

Submitted by Vallerie Stein '14, a Saint Anselm student and runner working for CNN. Things just keep getting better as the week goes on. The set for the debate is almost done and it looks absolutely amazing! Although Saturday was a rainy day everyone was full of energy and was ready to work.

Our first job was to set up chairs for the audience. This was not a glamorous job, but it gave all of us the opportunity to talk with the staff. It was interesting to hear about all of the different things that go into creating the set for the debate.

Then, without notice, we were asked to head to the stage, where we were placed behind podiums. I was placed at the podium for Rick Santorum. The CNN staff used me and my fellow runners to do an audio check and to figure out camera angles and lighting.

It was amazing being able to debate with everyone on stage about the economy and to see ourselves up on the big projection screens in the debate hall.

Suddenly, the crew stopped, and a crew member appeared with a big platform. They told me that I needed to stand on it to mimic the height of the candidate. I was told that he is 6'2," and they needed to make sure the camera angles would be right.

We ended up being on stage for three hours! It was incredible to be standing where the candidates will be debating Monday night.

If you have an interesting experience or story relating to the New Hampshire Republican Presidential Debate, submit your story through this blog. It's quick, and like this story, it just might appear in the Saint Anselm College Blog.

This post was submitted by Vallerie Stein.

Video: Interview With Prof. Dale Kuehne

We caught up today with Saint Anselm College Politics Professor Dale Kuehne just after he had concluded an interview with CNN. In this video, Rev. Kuehne discusses the visible role the college plays in the presidential primary process and some of the issues he thinks will be discussed during the 2012 election cycle.

Prof. Kuehne is author of Sex and the iWorld: Rethinking Relationship Beyond an Age of Individualism (Baker Academic Press). He serves as the Richard L. Bready Chair of Ethics, Economics, and the Common Good at Saint Anselm College. His current research focuses on the relationship between Christianity, politics, and human sexuality.

Prof. Kuehne joined the Department of Politics at Saint Anselm in 1994, and in 2000 he became the founding director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

He was ordained as a minister by the Evangelical Covenant Church of America in 2001, and serve as the pastor of the Emmanuel Covenant Church in Nashua, N.H.

Photos from Prof. Kuehne's CNN interview may be found on Flickr.

Prof. Dale Kuehne is available for media interviews. To arrange an interview, please contact Barbara LeBlanc, director of news and information, at

Things You (Won't) See on TV

A rainy Saturday may seem like a lost day, but not with a nationally televised debate just more than 48 hours away. We've been wading through puddles to bring you a sampling of information that you won't hear anywhere else.

For our latest images from around campus, visit our Flickr site and follow us on Twitter @Saintanselm

Overheard on the Quad, where Professor Dale Kuehne was being interviewed for the CNN Belief Blog (a story that will soon be posted):

"Hospitality and politics go together – Saint Benedict said that every visitor should be treated as Christ itself."

"Civil conversation is essential for Democracy. This is not inconsistent with who we are."

"Our goal is to have people talk about ideas in a civil way, and engage young people in the civic process."

A discussion in Carr Activities Center, home of the media filing center and spin room:

"One of our remote broadcast sites in Plymouth is called The Flying Monkey, how can you not love a place called The Flying Monkey?"

"We have 4,000 feet of cable installed in the ceiling, 16 wi-fi access points, 300 chairs, and 25 plasma monitors."

A run in with CNN Senior Producer of Special Events, Kate Lunger:

"It's great to be back at Saint Anselm, working with the same crew. We wish we could bring your staff everywhere."

A CNN producer on the Quad:

"Have you been up to that coffee shop? It's all homemade! It's delicious guys! Go check it out!"

On the debate stage where seven Saint Anselm students are standing in for Monday night's participants:

Pawlenty stand-in: "Maybe you should be President if your patient enough to watch the Red Sox."

Romney stand-in: "This Mitt Romney is a Yankees fan!"

"Mr. Paul, how much can you bench (at the gym)?"

"I don't even know who I am, I've never heard of me before."

"Really, we don't like each other?"

"Would stand-in be hyphenated (for a Tweet)?"

When Opportunity Knocks…

CNN's John King with Saint Anselm students

CNN's John King with Saint Anselm students

Submitted by Vallerie Stein '14, a Saint Anselm student and runner working for CNN. I cannot believe the opportunities that I have had in my first year at Saint Anselm. One year ago today, I graduated from High School, and today I am working with CNN!

On Thursday, I was part of the student group interviewed by Don Lemon. Today part of it aired on CNN. It was unbelievable that someone like me could be on TV. When the segment aired, many of us gathered around the television with looks of astonishment on our faces. It gives me the weirdest feeling to see our school on TV, but it also gives me so much pride in Saint Anselm. I am lucky to be here.

When I reported to the CNN office this morning, I was assigned to work with the people in charge of the audience. Although my career as a golf cart driver was over (my previous position included delivery and chauffeuring duties), I helped to organize the list of the Candidate's VIP guests, and learn about the role of the audience in a production.

The best part of my day was being able to have lunch with my boss. I had the opportunity to sit down with someone who had 41 years of experience with these sorts of events and working in broadcast journalism. Not only was her wisdom fascinating, but she had a sparkling personality that made us all laugh.

After the work day was done all of us runners were able to watch a John King broadcast his show from the Quad. I could not help but to have a big grin on my face the entire time. He is here on my campus, it doesn’t get any better than this!

Not only am I impressed with the production of everything, but all of the staff are incredibly nice and a pleasure to work with.

If you have an interesting experience or story relating to the New Hampshire Republican Presidential Debate, submit your story through this blog. It's quick, and like this story, it just might appear in the Saint Anselm College Blog.

This post was submitted by Vallerie Stein.

Video: A Sneak Peak, On the Debate Stage

CNN's Don Lemon may be the busiest journalist in New Hampshire the past few days. From interviewing Saint Anselm students on Thursday afternoon, to several games of Frisbee on the quad on Friday, Don also found the time to produce three stories for broadcast. In the video below, join Don for a tour of the debate hall, as it is being built.