Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton will take the stage in the Johnson Theatre at the Paul Creative Arts Center (PCAC) Thursday night for the last debate before the New Hampshire primary next Tuesday.
The deal was reached between the campaigns this past weekend before the Iowa Caucus. Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley will not be attending the debate as he suspended his campaign in light of results from the Iowa Caucus. Senator Sanders is currently leading in the polls by more than 22 percentage points according to the Huffington Post. Former Secretary of State Clinton narrowly won in Iowa.
Erika Mantz, director of media relations for UNH, said that MSNBC contacted the university to see if it would be acceptable that the last Democratic Debate be held here on the Durham campus. According to Mantz, both MSNBC and UNH had been in talks for a few days and reached an agreement this past weekend.
The announcement came on Monday before the Iowa Caucus. This is not the first time UNH has held a debate. According to Mantz, the campus hosted a debate for the Republican Party in 2007. That debate was hosted in the Whittemore Center, but this year MSNBC chose the Johnson Theatre as the location. Mantz said that anywhere from 550 to 600 people will be in attendance and that number will be around the capacity for the theater.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning after the first voting session of the electoral season, Sanders arrived in New Hampshire to speak to his volunteers. A group of approximately 20 volunteers from a UNH political group, UNH Students for Bernie, went to see the Democratic candidate speak.
Athena Valkanos, vice president of Students for Bernie, attended the event. About the Sanders campaign run, she said, “It’s definitely historic. I think it’s a movement of the younger generation being aware of corruption and greed. He speaks to the issues we care about. In this week’s debate I hope he sticks to his message and continues to not attack Clinton.”
The group will set up a rally from 4 to 8 p.m. outside of the PCAC.
President of UNH Students for Bernie Doug Marino, who is also the co-president of UNH College Democrats, said that about 25 members will show up to the rally. It is there that they will speak to students about voting and encourage Sanders supporters to get to the polls on Feb. 9.
Marino said, “We’re hoping to use this as an opportunity to reach out to students. We want to make sure that we can get as many students as possible to vote…we certainly look forward to a big turnout next week.”
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton represent the two sides of the Democratic Party. Clinton, the establishment candidate who has the political and financial support backing her, along with the experience of working in the Senate and in the Obama administration as secretary of state. Then there is Bernie Sanders: a self-avowed democratic socialist who has run on the message of a political revolution. Only two candidates remain. One will take New Hampshire and if history is any tell, Tuesday night will be quite important.
Voting will be held at the Oyster River High School. Shuttles will bring students from the roundabout at the Memorial Union Building to the polls. Students can register to vote there at the polls. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.