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Gore, Bush Meet Today For Debate

By Amanda M. Stockton

Al Gore and George W. Bush will meet for the first debate of the 2000 general election tonight at the University of Massachusetts in Boston’s Clark Athletic Center.

The debate will be cohosted by UMass Boston and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and moderated by PBS’s Jim Lehrer.

In preparation for the debates, UMass Boston canceled classes yesterday and today. Security was tightened beginning yesterday morning with a patrol sweep removing unauthorized vehicles from the UMass Boston parking garage. Staffers who needed to be on campus yesterday were required to get security clearances.

“Students, faculty, and staff will not be authorized to be on campus on those two days unless they are involved in specific debate related activities or other essential functions,” said UMass Chancellor Sherry H. Penney in a campus-wide memo.

The debate sponsors are reported to have “pre-published, objective criteria in order to determine who will be invited to the debates,” in a press release from the Committee on Presidential Debates.

Despite the limited audience space available, lotteries were to be held yesterday and today to allow UMass Boston students to obtain tickets to the debates.

College students arrive en masse

The College Democrats expect well over 1,000 students from Massachusetts and surrounding states to show support by holding signs and other “visibilities” at rallies before the debates.

From 5:00 p.m. until the time of the debate, college students with the College Democrats will line the route from the candidates’ hotel rooms to the Clark Athletic Center demonstrating their support. After a debate watching party that is expected to include 700 to 800 students, selected officials will rally with the students to show their appreciation for student support.

“College involvement this year has blown away the involvement in the last three years combined,” said Mark Stad, chairman of the College Democrat National Council. Stad attributes the increased student involvement to the fact that candidates are addressing “issues students care about,” such as funding for public education and affirmative action.

NBC resolves scheduling conflict

Although the CPD said that the debate schedule was “specifically developed to minimize conflict with other scheduled television programs which would have reduced the size of the national audience,” NBC had a scheduling conflict with the first baseball game of the 2000 Division Series. The broadcasting company allowed each local division to resolve the schedule conflict. Boston’s NBC affiliate, WHDH-TV, will show the debate.

The candidates have planned further debates on October 11 at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and on October 17 at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. The three debates will be held in the podium, table, and town meeting formats respectively. Each debate will be ninety minutes long and will include direct exchange between the candidates.