Democratic incumbent Senator Bill Nelson and Republican candidate Representative Connie Mack faced off in Florida’s senatorial debate on Oct. 17 in the Rose and Alfred Miniaci Performing Arts Center.
NSU students and faculty, NSU’s Board of Trustees, high school students, politicians and their families, other Floridian university professors, and media outlets throughout the state attended.
Watch parties were held in the Flight Deck at the Don Taft University Center and the Knight Auditorium in the Carl DeSantis Building. About 100 NSU students, faculty, and high school students watched the live, streaming debate from the auditorium. A classroom in DeSantis was designated for media reporters, including a majority of Florida’s local television stations.
Kevin Corke, former news anchor and sports broadcaster for ESPN and CBS, sat in the Knight Auditorium and held a question and answer session with students after the debate.
In the theater, the live debate was moderated by news anchor Michael Williams. He gave a run-down of rules for the audience, including that the audience must remain silent throughout the debate. Three panelists asked the candidates questions: Lissette Campos, ABC News’s director of community affairs; Toluse Olorunnipa, political reporter for the Miami Herald; and Anthony Man, political writer for the Sun-Sentinel.
NSU’s President George Hanbury welcomed the audience and said that the university was honored that Florida’s only Senatorial Debate for this year’s election would be broadcast from the main campus.
He reminded everyone that, “being a voter is a precious right we have in America.”
Nelson echoed the sentiment, adding “We hope to have moved the younger generation to go out and vote.”
The debate was divided into three parts: economic and domestic policy and national security, including the economy and Medicare; questions about each candidate’s record, focusing on negative advertise¬ments; and foreign and international policy. Each panelist asked several questions, and the candidates were given one minute and fifteen seconds to respond.
Sasha Pimental, sophomore musical theater major, who sang the National Anthem for the program, said, “Watching the debate in person makes voting more personal and students more aware of current issues.”
Williams, impressed by the evening, said, “This was a great place to have the debate. I think it’ll definitely bring forth students to go out and vote. Today’s debate probably made it harder though.”