Prospect of Centre Presidential Debate triggers excitement
RELEASED: Dec. 28, 2006
[Note: The following article was written by Herb Brock and was published in the Dec. 11, 2006, issue of Danville's The Advocate-Messenger. We are reprinting the article with permission.]
"What I remember most was how exciting it was that they were holding such a major national event right here in Kentucky, right down the road at Centre," says Spretser. "How cool was that?"
Spretser, now a junior at Centre, made that comment on Nov. 30 during a rally at Norton to celebrate the announcement by President John Roush that the college would be applying for one of the presidential or vice-presidential debates that will be held in the fall of 2008.
She wasn't able to be part of the 2000 debate and, should Centre land a debate in 2008, she won't be on campus for that one, either, at least not as a student. She will have graduated. But that does not tamp down her excitement.
"Sure, I wish I could be here as a student, but it will feel great to watch a debate on the campus of what will be my alma mater," says the religion major. "And I'm sure there will be a lot for the college, including the students, to do over the next few months during the application process and even more to do if the college gets the debate.
"If we get the debate, I would love to come back and attend it, although I think that would be a problem with limited seating. But I hope I can do something over the next few months to help. I hope to find a role I can play while I'm still a student."
Spretser's excitement is shared by other students. While at the rally, several students used words like "awesome" and "wow" as exclamation points to their comments celebrating the prospect of being a student at a school that might host several political celebrities, including the candidates, plus numerous media stars who will be among the army of print and broadcast journalists and production crews.
You don't have to be a college kid to get excited about seeing famous politicos or pundits. I was well into middle age in 2000 when I acted like a stalker in trying to get an interview with a combo politico-pundit, ABC's George Stephanopoulos, the former Clinton communications chief who later joined ABC and now serves as anchor of the network's Sunday morning program.
During the debate, it was neat seeing vice-presidential candidates Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman on the stage of Norton's Newlin Hall. Unfortunately, I was high up in the hall and Cheney and Lieberman looked like characters in "Darby Gill and the Little People."
Up close and personal
But after the debate, I had a chance to get up close and personal with Stephanopoulos, although he's a pretty small fellow even from close range.
As I was wandering down West Walnut toward The Advocate-Messenger building, I spotted this little guy walking toward his car. The guy looked very familiar and, as I saw two middle-aged women swoon and utter, "Oh my God, that's George Stephanopoulos! He's so smart - and s-o-o-o cute!" I knew I was only a few feet away from a double-star - a former top official of a president and a current top newsman, and very cute one at that.
I stepped up my pace and caught up with Stephanopoulos. I identified myself, hoping my mumbling would make him think I said my name was Herb Block, the famous syndicated cartoonist, rather than Herb Brock, the slightly less famous Danville journalist. When he asked that I repeat my name and organization, I realized I was back to being a stranger to him.
I asked him if I could get his take on the debate. He held up his hand in a "stop" motion and suddenly looked at his cellphone and said he needed to take a call first. I know a fake call when I see one because I take and make them all the time to try to fool the editor into thinking I'm working.
As Stephanopoulos talked on the phone—to nobody, I was convinced—he started walking away. And walking and walking. I followed and followed. Finally he stopped and appeared to give me another chance to ask him some questions. Again, he looked at his cellphone, said he had another call, put the thing to his ear and started walking again.
At the risk of being a papparazi without a camera, I again followed the little media matinee idol, and the rain that had started made this trot even more daunting.
Finally, Stephanopoulos reached his car, and I had the sinking feeling I had reached a brick wall in my attempt to interview him. But while the driver opened the door for him, Stephanopoulos turned around, stuck his cellphone in the pocket of his trench coat and said he could give me a couple of minutes.
After stuttering and stammering, I finally spit out a few lame softballs, and he hit them out of the park. I then morphed from reporter to fan and asked him to autograph my notepad.
If there is a debate at Centre in 2008, I plan to be there, and I bet Stephanopoulos will be as well. I'm sure the man gets followed by much more aggressive - and prettier - fans than me, so I bet he will have forgotten my little stalking.
The problem for me, though, will that I will be eight years older and a lot slower and that will make it impossible for me to chase the little star again. A solution might be for me to enlist Tracy Spretser.She says she wants a role to play in the debate application process and, if the school gets the event, the preparation, while she is still a student. I will have a role for her to play right after the debate—that of junior stalker. How cool, awesome and wow-some would that be—for both of us debate lovers.
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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