Seats drawn for debate

Last-minute details are being worked out for the rapidly approaching Democratic debate between sponsor Journal Communications Inc. and host Marquette.

"Wisconsin Presidential Debate 2004," a nationally televised debate between the Democratic presidential candidates, is set for the Monaghan Ballroom at the Alumni Memorial Union on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Marquette students and members of the board of trustees as well as 100 Wisconsin residents and various news crews will attend the debate.

Marquette distributed tickets to 30 students Wednesday and allotted 10 to a select number of trustees and board members. Journal is distributing 100 tickets to the general Wisconsin population. Both organizations are distributing tickets using a lottery system.

Senior Angie Gius, who received one of the 30 spots, said she was looking forward to the debate.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing the candidates' responses to the students' questions and how they're going to address the concerns that we face both locally and globally," Gius said. "I really hope the students challenge them. It should be especially interesting considering so much is on the line with our state's primary."

Sophomore David Kelly, a broadcast and clectronic communications major, said he anticipates being at the debate in person.

"It's pretty exciting," Kelly said. "I wasn't sure if I was going to get (a ticket). I'm a Republican, so I won't vote for any of them but it'll be very interesting to see them in person as opposed to just seeing them on TV. I don't know really what to expect."

The Monaghan Ballroom was chosen for this event because Journal Communications thought the size was appropriate, according to Ben Tracy, director of university communication.

"Certainly if the goal was simply to have as many people in one room as possible, you'd hold it down in the Midwest Express Center and invite a couple thousand people," Tracy said. "They really wanted a pretty intimate environment for it. They wanted it to be on a college campus and we're very happy that it's going to be here."

According to debate coordinator Bev Lindsey, Journal Communications wanted the debate on campus so that students could get more exposure to the event and because the ballroom was the type of place they wanted.

"We're really excited about being on the Marquette campus," Lindsey said. "The facilities are fabulous for us to work with because they have all the space that we needed. The staff that we've worked with is phenomenal. The students we've talked to were great to be around."

Before deciding on the Monaghan Ballroom in the AMU, Journal Communications looked at other venues around the city. Most of them were either booked or lacked the proper facilities, so Journal Communications approached Marquette because it had the most adaptable space.

Lindsey said the nationally televised debate would spark a lot of national attention.

"This debate will turn out to be a very pivotal point of this primary," Lindsey said. "It will be memorable in terms of the history of this year's primary. We think there'll be phenomenal coverage and hope that everyone appreciates that and understands it."

The Monaghan Ballroom's 10,000 square foot space, with all the adjoining rooms (A, B, C, D and E), can hold 1,000 people at its maximum capacity. However, it will be arranged to house a much smaller audience for the night of the debate.