History in the Making
Democrats take on health care and Iraq in New Hampshire debate
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8, 9–12
I became a part of history on Sept. 26, in my home state of New Hampshire. The Granite State is where the first presidential primary is held every four years. Citizens here play a major part in choosing the nominees for President in the Republican and Democratic parties. I was excited to be the Scholastic News Kid reporter representing kids at a debate among the eight Democratic candidates at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.
My mom and I arrived at 3:30 p.m. It wasn’t very crowded yet, but when Chris Matthews started his Hardball program on MSNBC, people began to show up and gather around. Lots of people stood in the Hardball audience holding political signs.
Then Democratic candidate Joe Biden came out of nowhere, and the place became a madhouse. Biden is a Senator from Delaware. I managed to squeeze through the crowd to shake his hand.
Once the Hardball show was over, I interviewed Matthews. I asked him about his best advice for kids. He said, "Read, read, read!"
I then interviewed New Hampshire Representative Tim Ryan, who is Biden’s local campaign chairman. I asked him about his family and how hard it is to balance his family life with working on the campaign. Rep. Ryan said that Biden always says family comes first.
Then it was time to go watch the debate. About 150 reporters were gathered in the press room watching TV monitors and typing away on their computers. It was really quiet except for the two humongous monitors and five flat-screen TVs.
During the debate, the candidates talked about many important issues.
Hilary Rodham Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama said that it would take more than four years to withdraw all the troops from Iraq.
Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson, and Joe Biden believe the war should end soon. Dennis Kucinich stated that if he were President, the United States would be out of Iraq in three months. Mike Gravel said it would only take 40 days for him to withdraw the troops. All agreed the war needs to end.
The crowd became excited when Dennis Kucinich stated we should lower the voting age to 16 and the drinking age to 18. That was a pretty popular idea.
It was difficult for me to stay focused on the debate. I was falling asleep because it was so late. I had to keep working the Kids Debate 2008 bulletin board that ran live during the debate. Kids were sending in questions and comments all during the debate. I got some really good questions and asked lots of them in the spin room.
The Spin Room
As the debate ended, I went to the spin room. It was fun being a reporter in the spin room. Reporters were crowding around the candidates and their representatives asking questions as fast as they could. Then the candidates or their representatives would give long answers.
As soon as there was a pause I would barge right in and ask my question. At first there were only candidates’ representatives in the spin room. I was disappointed, but then I saw how helpful they were. They knew all about the candidates and their platforms.
especially liked speaking with Elizabeth Kucinich, Dennis Kucinich’s wife. I asked her about providing quality health care for all children. She told me about health care in her home country of England. They have universal health care where the government pays for everything. She told me about legislation her husband wrote that she called Medicare for all.
enjoyed the experience of being a part of the Democratic debate process in New Hampshire. I am proud to represent New Hampshire in its part of presidential election history.
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