The Last Presidential Debate in the Sunshine State

The Last Presidential Debate in the Sunshine State

If you are thinking about interning the best piece of advice I can give you is to be proactive and do more than what is expected of you at your internship site. Look for opportunities to help out before work, after work and on the weekends. I promise that you will learn so much and gain some of the most valuable experience by putting your foot in as many doors as possible. I knew the presidential and vice presidential debate schedule because I had put it up on the white board in the office. I also worked a couple of the overnight shifts to help the team on debate nights. I was well aware that the presidential debate in Boca Raton was the last one and I knew I wanted to be part of the CBS team traveling to Florida. I talked to our senior producer and asked if I could travel with them to help work the debate. I made a call to my parents screaming with excitement when I got credentialed to go! The trip was last minute and I booked my flight just in time and by "just in time" I mean that Friday (flight was scheduled for that Sunday). :)

 

[My press pass for Boca - we needed these to get everywhere around the Lynn campus!]

 

Sunday

I flew out of DCA Sunday morning. It was a pretty early flight (my flight took off around 6 a.m.) but by now I am definitely used to the early mornings and six is sleeping in for me! I got into Fort Lauderdale where I met up with our booker and senior producer. After we checked into the hotel we went straight over to Lynn University to check on the progress of everything. Sunday we did not have to go through security which was nice because we were able to walk around and see the campus. Each network had their own newsroom trailer and trailers for an office, catering, makeup, etc. This was separate from the outside platforms and the platform inside the debate hall. We did a lot of the work from inside the newsroom trailer and found a coffee shop right on campus - hallelujah!

 

[Outside platform and the debate hall.]

 

Most of the media was there Sunday setting up and getting ready for the debate the next day. We got to walk through where all our shots would be and see the crew setting up the debate stage. I felt like I was in a dream! The debate hall looks a lot bigger on television and it is pretty neat to see how precise everything is on stage. From the desk to the chairs everything had its own particular spot to make it look just like the last debate. They also have stand-ins that sit in the chairs until they are positioned perfectly. It is cool getting to see the stage on television but it is even better seeing the process and work that goes into setting it up.

 

[In front of the debate stage!]

 

Monday

We wrapped up Sunday in time for dinner. I was exhausted by the end of the day and it was going to be an early morning Monday! We got some rest and headed back to the university in the morning. But first we had to stop for Starbucks! Security was a lot more intense on the day of the debate but we got through and immediately got to work. A lot of the day consisted of research, getting ready for post-debate interviews, guests and chats. We also had to prepare for Tuesday because our anchor Norah O'Donnell was live from the debate hall for our morning show. It was a short three days with little sleep but we powered through it! Coffee helps too. :)

 

[Goody bags for the media.]

 

The day went by pretty fast especially since we had so much stuff to do prior to the debate! But we got to relax for a little bit in the evening. We also got to walk around and see more of the set up at the university. CBS had a dinner for us before the debate. It was pretty delicious and it was nice to meet more people that work for the network! After dinner it was finally time for the last presidential debate of the 2012 campaign season! I cannot believe how fast it has gone by. The election is already next week! We were able to watch the debate and then had pre-taped interviews lined up with VP Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. One of our producers also sent me over to Spin Alley where all the surrogates go to talk about how each candidate did, their predictions and so on. She wanted me to listen in on what people thought and what the general consensus was. Spin Alley is the room you see the anchors in after the debate (and sometimes before). It is the place where they all get to chat about what happened and what was said during the debate. It was pretty crazy in there but it was totally awesome running around! I loved how hyper the room was. We took the shuttle back to our rental car around midnight and went straight to bed because we had a 4 a.m. wakeup call.

 

[Outside the debate hall at Lynn University.]

 

Tuesday

We were up early for our last day in Florida! Our anchor Norah was live in Boca at our platform in the debate hall. She was also joined by the debate moderator and our very own CBS legend Bob Schieffer! They chatted about how the debate went and I was able to talk with him for a little bit before he left (Go Frogs)! The debate crew that set up the stage had to break it all down as well. They had told us that they would start at 8 a.m. sharp and boy were they right on time! Fortunately, the noise did not interfere too much and before I knew it the show was over. I was so exhausted but luckily I had some time to nap before my flight back later that day. What a crazy three days; I feel like I did months of work in such a short amount of time! That is how I feel about this whole semester actually. I feel like I have been here for a year! I really enjoyed being able to see and help with everything that goes into the production of the show during debates. It was truly a life changing experience! It was just another opportunity to learn from the best and gain unique experience!

 

[Bob Schieffer and I at the debate hall Tuesday.]

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