Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


My backstage view of the governor’s debate

As I stood on a chair high above the mass of cameras and microphones, my heart pounded. Finally, with a sigh, I suppressed any doubts I had and went for it.

“Governor! Governor!” I had waited until just the right moment-the fraction of a second after he stopped talking and before the reporters began asking questions. I could see his profile perfectly with the glare of the television light highlighting his jaw line.

Jeb Bush turned and faced me. So did the lights, cameras and reporters.

For a second, I froze. There I was, no one important, reporter from a small college paper, standing on a chair like a fool, demanding answers from the leader of the state. But the group of UCF students outside weren’t allowed to ask, and so I had promised that I would try.

“Do you intend to address the students who have been waiting all day to hear from you?”

Jeb didn’t seem to get it. He had already said no earlier in the day, but this time the media was watching. I couldn’t hear his response, but as he turned and walked away I knew it was my first brush-off by a political candidate.

I hurried over to McBride’s side of the conference. He had flip-flopped earlier in the day, originally saying he would come, then balking, most likely at the progressive tone of the event. I managed to scurry right behind him, close enough to touch. This time, the reporters were far less polite, and I could only hear, “Mr. McBride, Mr. McBride!”

Realizing I needed to draw some attention to myself, I acted like we were old pals. “Bill! Bill!” I continued to call his first name until he turned and acknowledged me. I asked him the same question as I asked Jeb Bush. He too played dumb, and I told him about the rally.

He mentioned that he needed to see his family, and I was about to follow up with another question when someone tugged at my arm. This is it, I thought, I’ve gone too far and they are going to throw me right out of here.

The man who grabbed my arm asked me who I was, so I thrust my press pass in the man’s face and told him that I was from FAU’s University Press and that I had every right to ask the candidates questions.

He nodded and told me not to worry, that he just wanted to talk to me about the rally, and that he was from McBride’s campaign. Since McBride didn’t really answer, I hoped that this guy would. Unfortunately, he, too made it seem like a vague possibility, and probably just wanted to get me away from McBride.

After a few minutes of gawking at Janet Reno, I went back out to the rally, where the students had watched the debate on a large screen. I wish I could have seen the group’s reaction to the debate, as I’m sure boos and the term “fascist” were used in great frequency.

Instead, I watched the debate in the “Media Room” with all of the real reporters. I received several icy looks when I couldn’t help but giggle at the ridiculous comments from both sides during the debate.

Once outside again, I felt relieved. Despite the fact that some people considered my media pass a sign that I was part of the problem, I got to know so many interesting and dedicated activists who worked so hard to put their rally together.

It was with a pang of regret that I took the microphone and told the crowd that the candidates would not be coming. Rather than feeling defeated, this seemed to energize them, and soon around 200 people were chanting to the candidates and the moderator as they exited around the other side of the building, which was cordoned off by police.

“Skip the bus! Come talk to us! Skip the bus! Come talk to us!” We’ll never know if the candidates heard that or not, but the news reporters seemed to enjoy it.

Several of the local Orlando news shows took some footage of the rally, but as we watched from the hotel room later that night, we realized that the networks were more focused on the debate than anything else. That night we heard McBride’s comment about Bush’s mother around 15 times, but only heard about the protesters once or twice, with a condescending, “look at those wacky kids” approach.

While my day at UCF was exciting in so many ways, I was also frustrated. I have never seen FAU students coming together in such a fashion to inform and support each other’s political beliefs. I can’t help but imagine that, were the debate held at FAU, students would only be interested if they were giving away free pizza.

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