From Hempstead, New York –
The campus of Hofstra University is quiet today when it comes to regular college classes, but in terms of politics, it is bubbling and buzzing away as the center of the U.S. Election Universe, as this school prepares to host the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
As I made my way to the campus this morning, there was the usual amount of security and different hoops to jump through – when I picked up my press credential, they sternly warned me and other reporters not to take any pictures and send it out on social media.
So, I won’t.
The weather outside is perfect today, and that is good news for the hordes of television and other reporters who are here for the debate – this is a giant standup platform for reporters to do their TV reports, right in front of the debate hall:
As usual, most reporters will watch the debate on television from the Media Filing Center – here’s a shot of what that looks like – it will be jammed later on tonight.
Just to give you an idea of the cost of covering one of these events, each school that is hosting a debate this time is charging reporters a different amount for a seat in the filing center, internet connections and more.
My bill at Hofstra was $340 for a press seat, some power and hard-wired internet access.
But while I had paid that weeks ago, the folks here acted like I hadn’t when I arrived, and I was given one of the few open press seats that were left.
Good thing I got here right after breakfast.
Unlike Bob Uecker, I am in the front row – right in front of the Spin Alley:
Hours before the big event got going, there were some people already here “spinning” for the candidates – former college basketball coach Bobby Knight here, on behalf of Donald Trump.
One of the best parts about covering campaign events like this is that you run into people you haven’t seen in years – for me, it was Bob Schieffer, the long time host of “Face the Nation” on CBS.
For many years, Bob sat across from me in the press gallery up in the attic of the U.S. Senate. It was great to see him.
Back outside, the big TV networks have set up shop for their live broadcasts outside of the secure perimeter, so that students and other interested onlookers can check things out.
And one of the biggest draws is the beer tent run by Anheuser-Busch. I’m not kidding. The brewing company is again offering free food and drinks to reporters, and anyone else inside the secure zone.
There’s a little peek behind the curtains at this debate.