What does presidential debate day on Washington University’s campus look and sound like? | St. Louis Public Radio

What does presidential debate day on Washington University’s campus look and sound like?

Oct 9, 2016

St. Louis Public Radio has three reporters and a photographer on Washington University’s campus to document and report on what's happening before the second presidential debate of 2016 between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Read below for reverse chronological updates from throughout the day on Washington University's campus. You can also stay up-to-the-minute updated by following our Twitter list, embedded below but also available here.

7 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 9: At 7 p.m., you can hear a live pre-debate special from NPR with Michel Martin ahead of the debate, which will also be broadcast on air and online at 8 p.m. You can follow along during the debate with a live fact-check from NPR here.

You can also follow along below for updates throughout the debate from our reporters at Washington University:

6:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 9: St. Louis Public Radio photojournalist Carolina Hidalgo shared these photos from the "Forward Together" bus tour at the Missouri History Museum earlier in the day. 

Clinton supporters greet a bus carrying Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, Congressman Lacy Clay, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and DNC Chief of Staff Brandon Davis outside the Missouri History Museum. The Forward Together bus tour will visit 20 states in an effort
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Reny Alfonso, 7, carries American flag pinwheels at the "Forward Together" bus tour kickoff event outside the Missouri History Museum Sunday afternoon.
Credit File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Congressman Lacy Clay speaks with reporters at the Forward Together bus tour kickoff event outside the Missouri History Museum Sunday afternoon.
Credit File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

6 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 9: 

Reporter Dale Singer shared these photos of those on campus at Washington University.

A poster made in support of Washington University Chancellor Mark Wrighton.
Credit Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Donald Trump supporters on Washington University ahead of tonight's debate.
Credit Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio
A Donald Trump supporter shares her sign on Washington University ahead of the debate on Sunday night.
Credit Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio
Protestors on Washington University's campus built a human "brick wall" of slurs Donald Trump has used toward women.
Credit Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

5:45 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 9: A few out-takes during the downtime before the presidential debate begins at 8 p.m.:

5:15 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 9: Reporter Jason Rosenbaum interviews Trump advisor Boris Epshteyn

4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 9: On a special edition of St. Louis on the Air from 3-4 p.m. we heard from reporters Jo Mannies, Jason Rosenbaum and Dale Singer about the run up to the presidential debate. UMSL political science chair Dave Robertson and presidential debate expert Diana Carlin also joined us. You can listen online here:

Dale Singer reported from the Washington University campus at an area designated a "public expression zone" for protestors. As of 3:30 p.m., when the area opened, there were only a "smattering" of protestors. 

"The most popular people here, as far as photographers go, are a pair dressed up as the devil and the grim reaper," Singer said. "The devil said 'Trump sold me his soul and, what a ripoff, there was nothing there.' That's kind of the humor. I was at the Quad on the way over here and it was a fairly festive atmosphere ... what you'd normally see on a beautiful Sunday afternoon on a college campus. Frisbee. But there are also a lot of media people, media trucks."

A couple dressed as the devil and the grim reaper greet visitors to the "public expression zone" on the Washington University campus.
Credit Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Singer said he spoke to a Trump supporter on campus who said that the recently released video of Trump's lewd statements about women was "hogwash" and "happened 11 years ago." 

"She doesn't think it is really relevant to this," Singer said. "She thinks Trump's general policies are what she would like to see. I asked her if she had a daughter, would she want her to be in Trump's company and she said 'I have a daughter, I have a granddaughter, and I would be proud for them to be in his company.' You are certainly getting all points of view here." 

Jo Mannies, a  veteran of debate coverage at Washington University, said that security for tonight's debate was heightened as compared to other years. 

"Washington University has done this five times, everything is pretty smooth," Mannies said. "It is a party atmosphere a little bit, but everyone does seem to see this as serious business."

Mannies spoke on a Real Clear Politics program earlier this afternoon, where U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay also appeared. He was confident Clinton would win.

"What was interesting to me was that he had really nice words for Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican running for re-election, emphasizing that he has always worked well with Blunt," Mannies said. "While he didn't knock Kander, a Democrat, at all. I thought that was interesting."

Mannies also observed the following:

Jason Rosenbaum​ shared what he was seeing from the media center in Washington University's Athletic Complex, where 3,000 members of the media will sit tonight during the debate. 

"Some of the bigger media outlets have actually rented booths," Rosenbaum said. "The rest of the media is situated in this endless row of tables. The table has places for you to plug in your computer. There's a chair. For us, there's a mult box. For a place that is going to house thousands of people, it is actually kind of comfortable. That's not always the case."

There are a bunch of little screens in front of the tables for reporters to observe how the debate goes. 

"This is also where the spinners will try to come to try to convince us that Clinton is the best debater since Lincoln and Trump is the best debater since ... Trump," Rosenbaum said. 

Earlier this week, Rosenbaum wrote an article, "Should Trump and Clinton visit Ferguson before their St. Louis debate?," So far, Rosenbaum has heard no such plans for Trump or Clinton to visit the suburb which was the site of protests following the police shooting death of Michael Brown Jr. in 2014. 

"I've talked to a few people who live in Ferguson and many are incensed that Trump said that Ferguson was one of the most dangerous cities in the world, which it is not. That's flat-out false; I'm not going to sugarcoat it. ...  There is also disappointment that Clinton hasn't gone there either. She was in Florissant a year ago. Some have argued that's close enough but it is not the same. They're two different cities. They don't understand why she didn't go there and talk to residents, to see where many consider the new Civil Rights movement started."

Jason Rosenbaum reports from the media center at Washington University.
Credit Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio
A view inside of "Spin Alley" in the media center at Washington University.
Credit Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

A view inside the media center, where 3,000 members of the media will be located for tonight's debate.
Credit Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

1:40 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 9: Reporter Jo Mannies is on a panel at Real Clear Politics' "Powering the Debate 2016." You can follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #powering2016

1:15 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016: Take a look behind-the-scenes at the setup for tonight's debate. St. Louis Public Radio photojournalist Carolina Hidalgo captured these images on Friday, Oct. 7. You can follow her for more photos throughout the afternoon at @carolinahidalgo

Workers set up for the presidential debate at Washington University on Friday afternoon.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Workers construct the stage on Friday for the second presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Workers set up for the presidential debate at Washington University on Friday afternoon.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Workers set up for the presidential debate at Washington University on Friday afternoon.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

P.S. You can now find St. Louis Public Radio reporter Jason Rosenbaum on the scene: 

12:00 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016: Debate day gears up with plenty of national media gathering on Washington University's campus along with some local fanfare. 

St. Louis Public Radio reporter Jo Mannies is currently part of the Real Clear Politics event called "Powering the Debate 2016." Follow her dispatches from the event on Twitter @jmannies

In case you missed updates about the traffic situation around Washington University's campus today: 

  • Big Bend was closed at about 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8
  • Forsyth was closed at about 9 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 9.
  • Both Forsyth and Big Bend will reopen by 6 a.m. Monday, Oct. 10.

What we're reading:

With critical debate looming, Wagner and Davis withdraw support for Trump (via @jrosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio)

In the Heart of America, Trump Supporters Are Hard to Find (via @lukeoneil47, Esquire)

Wash U's latest debate reflects the future, and recalls the past (via @jmannies, St. Louis Public Radio)

11:00 a.m., Friday, Oct. 7, 2016: Reporters picked up their media badges on the Washington University campus today. Jason Rosenbaum gave an idea of sheer size of the media center, housed in the Athletic Complex, during a tour ahead of the debate.

Last month, Steve Givens, the associate vice chancellor and chief of staff at Washington University and chair of the presidential debate steering committee, said the campus anticipated 2,500 to 3,000 members of the media would converge on campus to cover the debates.

A view inside the massive media center at Washington University ahead of the second presidential debate of 2016.
Credit Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Jason Rosenbaum, Dale Singer, Jo Mannies, Carolina Hidalgo, Shula Neuman, Stephanie Lecci, Kimberly Springer and Kelly Moffitt will contribute to this post.