Presidential debate to be broadcast on UC Berkeley campus

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The UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies Library will be the arena of a lively political gathering Wednesday night, when it broadcasts the first of three debates between the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees.

The debate on U.S. domestic policy between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney will be broadcast live at the library at 6 p.m. The event is being co-sponsored by the ASUC Vote Coalition, the Robert T. Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service, Cal Berkeley Democrats and the Berkeley College Republicans, among other campus groups.

“Given that it’s an election season, we’re trying to work together as much as possible to strengthen the youth vote,” said Sofie Karasek, communications director for Cal Berkeley Democrats.

The library is located at 109 Moses Hall and will have snacks and raffle prizes for people in attendance. There is no admission charge for the viewing event, and organizers said all members of the campus community are welcome to attend, no matter their political affiliation.

“Even if (Republicans) are the minority, I think it’s going to be a very good experience,” said Shawn Lewis, executive director of the Berkeley College Republicans. “We’re going to be cheering for our candidate.”

Wednesday’s debate is the first in a series of election events expected to be broadcast at the library leading up to the Nov. 6 election. The library will also host gatherings to view the two subsequent debates between Obama and Romney, a vice-presidential debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, and the election results on Nov. 6, in addition to forums analyzing possible outcomes of the election.

The viewing events are similar to gatherings held during the 2008 election season at the Matsui Center. Although organizers are not sure what the turnout for Wednesday’s debate will be, crowds for election events in 2008 were large enough to overflow the library, Lewis said.

Ethan Rarick, director of the Matsui Center, said that if Wednesday’s debate yields a crowd too large to fit in the room, then a screen will be set up in the courtyard area outside Moses Hall to accommodate the extra people.

“The more, the merrier,” Rarick said.

Contact Mitchell Handler at [email protected].