Paris Attacks Force Changes in Des Moines Debate

Dec 15, 2015

The moderators for the second democratic debate had been preparing for weeks. But when they heard news of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Kathie Obradovich, political columnist for the Des Moines Register one of the debate’s moderators, says they ripped up the entire debate script and refocused it on national security, terrorism, and foreign policy.

"We didn't actually see a complete script 'til one hour before air time. One hour."

The attacks threw off much of the typical presidential debate dynamic. Iowa Public Radio Morning Edition host Clay Masters says compared to usual campaign events, the atmosphere surrounding the debate was subdued.

"I've covered a lot of these multi-candidate events. On the Democratic side, they're really known for bringing out supporters and riling up people on the street and cheering and chants. I think it was around 3 o' clock when I got to the campus of Drake University and did a circle around campus, and it was pretty quiet. There were definitely supporters out but it was a much more somber, sobering time than, say, the JJ dinner," says Masters.

"People were out, they were there to support their candidate, but definitely an impact was felt by the recent attacks in Paris."

On this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Obradovich and Masters about the debate. Later in the hour, presidential debate scholar Alan Schroeder and Kelly Winfrey, Assistant Professor at the Greenlee School of Journalism and Coordinator of Research and Outreach at the Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University, join the conversation to elucidate the impact presidential debates have on elections.