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PAGE 16 ★ THE COLORADO STATESMAN ★ OCT. 5, 2012 “Hope never abandons you, you abandon it.” — George Weinberg

PAGE 17 ★ THE COLORADO STATESMAN ★ OCT. 5, 2012 “Who dares nothing, need hope for nothing.” — Friedrich Schiller

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein greets supporters at the Mercury Cafe following the Obama/Romney debate at the University of Denver on Oct. 3.

Terri McClain wears a supersized Uncle Sam hat as she expresses her opinion about the outcome of the presidential debate on her shoulder bag.

Activists wearing Barack Obama and Mitt Romney costumes display a campaign finance reform message outside the first presidential debate on Oct. 3 at the University of Denver. PHOTO BY ERNEST LUNING

Supporters of Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson gather near a van bearing his portrait in order to drum up interest in his candidacy. Johnson was not allowed to participate in the presidential debate because he had not secured the necessary support in polls.

DebateFest: A lawn party for the rest of us BY MILLER HUDSON THE COLORADO STATESMAN

Above, DU Economics and Finance major Nicky Jaroenjitkul prepares to have her photo taken with cutouts of presidential candidates Obama and Romney. At right, a protester on the street outside the DebateFest promotes “The Grand Puppet Show Protest... ROBAMA vs OBOMNEY” showing a composite portrait made up of the faces of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama and controlled by a puppeteer.

Photos by John Schoenwalter/ The Colorado Statesman

It was never in the cards that more than a handful of DU students or grassroots Colorado Democrats would wangle tickets to Wednesday’s Presidential Debate. Simply accommodating the media ate up nearly half the available seats. Once the organizers squeezed in high roller contributors, national party poobahs, University administrators and elected officials, rumor has it that the Colorado Democratic and Republican parties received no more than a few dozen passes. A campus lottery was held to distribute student tickets, with a rock and roll

Artist Brian Olsen has just completed a double portrait of presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in full view of the DebateFest.

viewing party offered as a consolation prize for the unlucky. At 5:00 p.m. it was still close to 80 degrees and the line at the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream truck wound back half a block. The weather forecast called for a cold front and plummeting temperatures, but you could tell most of the student body at the University of Denver is still adapting to Rocky Mountain weather. Spaghettistrap blouses, T-shirts, shorts and sandals were the uniform of the day. Perhaps the most bizarre outfit was a Denver Water Board jogger wearing a toilet costume followed by a sign bearer with the message, “Running Toilets Waste Water.” An hour later, swirling winds, dry lightning and the threat of a downpour sent most of the audience fleeing to dorm rooms for fleece vests, blankets, hats and gloves. Meanwhile, the musicians soldiered on despite alarming gusts that caused their stage to shudder and groan. Chris Matthews held forth at the MSNBC booth, surrounded by a mob that was cued to cheer by a youthful stage director. Hay bales were scattered on the green to provide seating. Young families shared picnic dinners. Off to

DU Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications Kevin A. Carroll heads out towards the DebateFest at DU’s Carnegie Green.

the side, the University bookstore who bothered to listen. It appeared enjoyed land office sales in commemoradoubtful that either candidate was tive T-shirts, while a series of tents shelsuccessfully persuading anyone to change tered advocacy groups for just about his or her mind. every fringe political cause you could As an old high school and college imagine. It was possible to debater, it was evident load up on bumper stickers that Romney was getting like, I HAVE STUDENT the better of the clash — DEBT AND I VOTE, as forcing the discussion to well as campaign buttons go where he wanted. for choice, marijuana, bicyWhile facts are necessary, cling and organic produce. they are rarely determiAlthough the crowd leaned native in a debate. More to Obama, Romney partiimportant is the force of sans were well represented. the arguments marshaled By 7:00 p.m., many by a debater, particularly students were straggling the rebuttals and ripostes back to the lawn with that can undermine an sleeping bags, ski jackets opponent’s credibility. and medicinal smoking For example, if we really Patriotically accoutered Interherbs. Although the crowd have 23 million Amerinational Business and Leaderwas free to chime in with cans unemployed and ship major Alex Shefrin works applause or hisses, unlike another hundred thouhis way through the Debatethose trapped in the debate sand entering the workFest crowd on Wednesday. hall itself who had been force each month looking amply admonished to remain silent for jobs, how will a plan to add 12 million throughout the proceedings, there was new jobs over the next four years solve little audible response to either candiour problem? date. The loudest cheers arose each time A useful primer for debaters is a halfthe University of Denver was mentioned. century old text, Statistics don’t lie, but The seemingly endless recitation of liars can figure! Both debaters carefully numbers, dates and percentages shaved their numbers to produce figures imposed a soporific trance over those that supported interpretations they

Romney supporters line University Boulevard near Interstate 25 right before the highway was shut down in advance of the first presidential debate on Oct. 3 at the University of Denver. PHOTO

BY

ERNEST LUNING/THE COLORADO STATESMAN

wished to advance, when the bottom line, of course, is the fact that our economy has sucked badly for a very long time — and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon whoever is elected. This detachment of argument from lived experience chilled enthusiasm. As the night grew colder, the crowd began to slowly drift away in search of personal truths. At the conclusion of the debate, only a few hundred diehards remained. Heads down, they quietly scurried away into the night.

Barry Hirschfeld’s star-spangled bowtie is an elegant touch in tune with the day’s events.

Only an endless succession of barbed wire fences protected them against the arctic blasts swirling broken stalks of hay that scoured the University lawn. — mnhwriter@msn.com Denverites Steve Farber and Rick Sapkin indicate their affiliation with the Lifetime Giving Society as they walk through DU’s Carnegie Green towards the DebateFest festivities.

A father and young son on East Evans near the DebateFest carry a paddle bearing the phrase “Koch Brothers, Elections Not Auctions.”

Debatefest a lawn party for the rest of us 0100512  
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