2008: Presidential Primaries at Dartmouth College

  • All eight candidates participated in the Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate at Dartmouth in 2007.

“I cannot think of a better way for Dartmouth to showcase itself to the world than by hosting a political event of such a magnitude as a presidential debate. The debate required a serious investment of Dartmouth resources, and I think it paid off in spades.” –Michale Belinksy ’08

Dartmouth College took center stage on September 26, 2007, when it hosted and co-sponsored a debate in Spaudling Auditorium for candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. All eight candidates participated. Dartmouth was one of five partners of the debate, along with MSNBC, New England Cable News, the National Democratic Committee, and the New Hampshire Democratic Party. The ninety-minute event was broadcast and streamed online by MSNBC and New England Cable News (NECN), with the late Tim Russert, NBC’s Washinton bureau chief and host of Meet the Press, serving as moderator.

While millions watched the event on their telebisions and computers, what they did not see was the action behind the scenes ensuring the debate and related activities went off seamlessly. Organizers from many Dartmouth departments and several student organizations worked in collaboration for seven months to produce this national event. The Rockefeller Center worked with partners on and off campus to plan the Student Watch Party, the student focus group, the debate website, the ticket lottery, “Meet the Campaigns,” “Meet the NBC Talent.” More than 200 student volunteers helped to implement the events on this day.

Michael Belinsky ’08 was among the 200 student volunteers implementing those activities, including a “watch party” in Leede Arena attended by some 2,000 people. Belinsky was the logistical wizard in charge of communicating the event’s game plan and information to parking, public relations, safety and security, dining, and other key offices on campus. He calls the experience “one of the most formative” of his time on campus.

The Rockefeller Center also hosted candidate visits and campaign rallies throughout the busy primaries season.