The student news site of Saint Anselm College

The Saint Anselm Crier

The student news site of Saint Anselm College

The Saint Anselm Crier

The student news site of Saint Anselm College

The Saint Anselm Crier

Canceled debate raises questions of political future, college significance

Construction works on setting up Sullivan Arena for GOP debate stage.
Courtesy/ Kayla Panagrosso
Construction works on setting up Sullivan Arena for GOP debate stage.

With tensions of the 2024 election getting higher than ever, the disappointment of the ABC debate cancellation struck a nerve in the Saint Anselm Community. The would-have January debate represents the unorthodox climate of American politics and the question of New Hampshire’s agency on the political stage.

The college was scheduled to host the ABC/WMUR GOP debate on Jan. 18. Candidates were required to place their spot by 5:00 pm on the 16th. Ron DeSantis had placed his spot for the debate. Nikki Haley, however, did not make her placement. Haley put the decision into frontrunner Donald Trump’s hands. Because Trump and Haley failed to respond to ABC by the allotted time, they were forced to cancel.

Fortunately, Saint A’s had no financial losses. ABC covered every expense, including travel expenses and rink space at another facility for the hockey team. ABC also covered the labor of Saint A’s electricians and paid for the production of the stage.

However, students lost the opportunity to engage with national-level politics. The college has historical involvement with local and national politics, especially with major broadcasting stations using its facilities.

Story continues below advertisement

Before the debate was canceled, students were given the opportunity to volunteer with ABC as production assistants. 

NHIOP political Ambassador Jordan Tavares had been on campus working with ABC since Jan. 4. Although he, and the other volunteers, made connections with the ABC staff, they also sacrificed two weeks of their winter break.

Tavares said, “First of all, I want to say thank you to the Institute of Politics for allowing me to have this experience, and I would love to work with the people of ABC again.” 

Paul Pronovost, Chief of Communications and Marketing Office, said, “It’s such a unique experience for a small Liberal arts college, for a few minutes, to be at the center of national politics.”

Saint Anselm College also missed out on earned media, the publicity around the debate. This lost potential publicity and opportunities for the college such as recruiting prospective students and recognition on the political stage.

The Communications and Marketing department worked hand-in-hand with the ABC team, promoting the event locally and collecting content useful for marketing the College. This outside press publicity can help Saint A’s with its marketing to prospective students and inform the community of on-campus events.

“We didn’t lose everything though. The political cycle is long…we have candidates coming, and journalists coming for months and months,” said Pronovost

The Department of Conference and Event Services also played a significant role in the production of the debate. It was responsible for the operations and logistics of the debate production and issuing the contract with ABC. 

Rob Foreman, Director of Events and Conference Services, said “It was just like any other event for us.” 

The College has developed a strength in hosting networks. Saint A’s systems and facilities are favorable to small and large broadcasting stations and print media.

DeSantis had scheduled a press conference after the debate cancellation. The conference then evolved into talks of a full town hall. DeSantis dropped out of the race two days later, and the town hall was also canceled. 

“That’s how fast politics change this go around,” said Foreman.

Foreman, explaining the difference from previous debates, stated, “The challenge we had this time was that we had eleven months to pull this off in 2020, this time we had five weeks.”

The cancellation of the ABC debate also actualizes a fear of many New Hampshire voters, the removal of the “First in the Nation Primary.” If the First in the Nation Primary is removed, Saint A’s won’t see the same amount of candidates, and publicity, as before.

“New Hampshire is an important state because it is a purple state…and that’s crucial to American politics…starting the election in this purple state is a good tone-setter,” said Tavares.

“The local people of New Hampshire live for this…they want to be in the same room as potential presidents,” said Foreman. 

Students given chance to help setup for ABC debate dispite not going live. (Courtesy/)
NHIOP ambassadors worked alongside ABC crew to prepare for failed debate
Students had opportunity to make professional connections and experiences.

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

All The Saint Anselm Crier Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *