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Discussion to Honor 1992 Presidential Debate

Published: October 10, 2012, 11:48 pm ET

A panel discussion will honor the first town-hall style presidential debate hosted by the University of Richmond in 1992.

The discussion will be held in the Alice Haynes Room at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18.

Rhetoric professor Tim Barney will host the event, with the help of the National Communication Association and his class Election 2012: Processes of Political Communication. The class will focus on generating the questions that will be asked to panelists, he said.

Panelists will include: Diana Carlin, associate vice president for graduate education at St. Louis University and co-author of “The 1992 Presidential Debates in Focus;” Mitchell McKinney, associate professor and director of graduate studies of the department of communication at Missouri University and also co-author of “The 1992 Presidential Debates in Focus” and Jennifer McClellan, a representative in the Virginia House of Delegates, who attended the debate as a Richmond student and as the president of College Democrats. Panelist Carole Simpson, broadcast journalist and the moderator of the 1992 debate, will connect to the discussion via Skype from Emerson College.

Marissa Hall Summers, a citizen participant in the debate, also came forward during the past week and asked to attend the discussion. Hall became famous for asking the candidates the question: “How has the national debt personally affected each of your lives? And if it hasn’t, how can you honestly find a cure for the economic problems of the common people if you have no experience in what’s ailing

“That question really threw President H.W. Bush off,” Barney said, “and when she came forward and asked if she could attend the event, we then asked her if she would actually be a panelist in the discussion.”

The discussion will allow panelists to reminisce, speak about how presidential debates have evolved and focus on the importance of the 1992 debate, Barney said.

It is not only the 20th anniversary of the debate, but the discussion is also taking place after the current presidential town hall debate, and it is a significant part of Richmond campus and presidential history, Barney said.

“The biggest take away students can get from an event like this is the sense that politics is real. It affects them, and it is part of their everyday lives,” Barney said. “It will demonstrate the value of being engaged in the community, and it can help make students more civic minded.”

Though many students hadn’t been born when this debate occurred, sophomore Jeremy Adler said Barney had shown his class information about the debate and why it was so historic.

“The town hall format leads to unique situations for candidates, and the fact that the 1992 debate was the first time it happened makes it a debate that is worth re-living,” Adler said. “I am just really excited to be in the same room with people of such influential stature, and to have the chance to interact with them about an important presidential debate.”

The event can remind people that debates matter, Barney said. “It’s not just about policy, but about how well candidates can relate to people and issues,” he said.

The event will be free to the public and will be webcast.

Contact Reporter Lauren Shute at

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  • Boyce Williams

    Wished I knew about this event, seeing that I was one of the participants back in ’92. I’m sure some of us would had been glad to share our experiences and how we came up with our questions, whether or not we got the chance to ask them. I hope this event was recorded and made public so I can enjoy watching.

  • Boyce Williams

    I stand corrected. The event is today, so I’ll be attending.