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Inside the newsroom: Behind the scenes at the vice presidential debate

Perhaps the legacy of the vice presidential debate is the impact it will have on students and their future civil engagement.

Democratic vice presidential candidate California Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence take the stage for the vice presidential debate at Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020.
Democratic vice presidential candidate California Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence take the stage for the vice presidential debate at Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

白小姐一肖一码准选一码SALT LAKE CITY — Last Monday, two days before the nation’s eyes turned to Salt Lake City for the vice presidential debate, Deseret News photographer Spenser Heaps traveled to the fourth floor of the tower at Rice-Eccles Stadium, set up as a COVID-19 test station.

白小姐一肖一码准选一码“After waiting in a socially distanced line, I was ushered over to one of a half-dozen kiosks manned by a young man in a white lab coat and PPE. He walked me through the procedure to self-administer swabs of both my throat and nose,” Heaps said. “The absence of a call from a University Healthcare representative meant that I had tested negative, so I was able to return the next morning to pick up a green wristband worn by everyone working inside the event perimeter of the debate.”

白小姐一肖一码准选一码It was the same procedure that our writers, Lisa Riley Roche and Dennis Romboy, went through to get clearance. A day later Deseret News opinion editor Boyd Matheson received clearance, all in the interest in providing a safe bubble for the debate that drew 57.9 million viewers, between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin in 2008.

白小姐一肖一码准选一码Meanwhile, Kamala Harris was already into her third full day of preparation in Salt Lake City on Monday. She was ensconced in an apartment in the City Creek tower across from Temple Square. Her location wasn’t announced to maintain security, but many local residents knew she was there. Cones blocked the corner of West Temple and South Temple and a car was kept at the ready. Law enforcement maintained a presence around the building. Dozens of parking spots in the underground parking garage below were blocked off for the duration of her stay.

白小姐一肖一码准选一码The vice presidential hopeful made the quick walk each day to the City Creek Marriott, a few hundred yards away, where a replica of the debate stage at the University of Utah was put in place. Former competitor-presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and others put her through her paces in debate preparation.

白小姐一肖一码准选一码Later that evening, around 6:30 p.m., Air Force Two touched down in Salt Lake City. Vice President Mike Pence and his family were greeted by Gov. Gary Herbert and first lady Jeanette Herbert, as well as 4th Congressional District Republican candidate Burgess Owens, who will debate Congressman Ben McAdams Monday in the hotly contested race.

Security for the vice president was, understandably, tighter as the Secret Service followed well-established protocols. His motorcade included a motorcycle escort, Secret Service vehicles with agents and an ambulance, and traveled on streets previously cleared by law enforcement en route to the Hotel Monaco, located just two blocks from his challenger.

Dump trucks are lined up end-to-end outside the Hotel Monaco on Second South and Main in Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. Vice President Mike Pence is expected to stay at the hotel after arriving in Salt Lake City later Monday for Wednesday’s debate with Democratic nominee Sen. Kamala Harris.
Dump trucks are lined up end-to-end outside the Hotel Monaco on Second South and Main in Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. Vice President Mike Pence is expected to stay at the hotel after arriving in Salt Lake City later Monday for Wednesday’s debate with Democratic nominee Sen. Kamala Harris.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

The area along 200 West in Salt Lake City was lined with dump trucks to protect the perimeter of the hotel. It was reminiscent of President Barack Obama’s visit to Salt Lake City in April 2015 when dump trucks were used to secure the area around the Sheraton Hotel.

By Tuesday, the day before the debate, national media was focused on the condition of President Donald Trump, recovering from COVID-19, and the age of challenger Joe Biden, who will turn 78 on Nov. 20. This will be “the most important vice presidential debate ever,” the pundits said.

白小姐一肖一码准选一码On that day, our photographer, Spenser Heaps, made his way back up to the University of Utah. It was time for photographers to select vantage points in Kingsbury Hall.

“With limited spots for photographers in the hall, I was competing with photographers from the Associated Press, Getty and Reuters, each of whom had multiple photographers,” Heaps said. “The New York Times had two photographers, the Washington Post had one, and Bloomberg had one,” he said.

Usually, local photographers have the priority in press coverage. For a national event run by the Commission on Presidential Debates, that priority didn’t exist.

白小姐一肖一码准选一码“There were two spots — one on the floor and one in the balcony. A quick survey of the floor spot made me nervous that moderator Susan Page (of USA Today) might obscure my view of Vice President Mike Pence, so I opted for the safe spot up high. This is a classic stresser when you aren’t going to be able to move during an event. Do you take a risk on something that could get you a closer or more interesting vantage, or do you play it safe?”

Heaps chose the balcony.

白小姐一肖一码准选一码“Besides having a clear shot of both participants, the wide-angle shots from my balcony position were more interesting than they would have been from low down.”

Jason Perry and the Hinckley Institute headed the university’s debate committee, with subcommittees handling facilities, volunteers, COVID-19 testing, IT and security. About 100 people were involved with 20 to 30 of them working full time for the past month, Perry said.

“It was awe-inspiring to see those university students be ushers, ticket takers, security. They were there smiling and completely professional,” Scott Howell, former Democratic legislator, said.

On the day of the debate, Riley Roche was in the press tent, which ultimately was less than half full at the time of the debate; many media outlets, particularly from around the world, opted to cover it remotely. Romboy was on the streets outside, chronicling the protests, 白小姐一肖一码准选一码which included both Trump and Biden supporters, as well as Black Lives Matter and supporters of Armenia, raising their voices about the fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory.

白小姐一肖一码准选一码“The University of Utah and the team led by Jason Perry did a remarkable job of hosting the debate and showcasing the core Utah values of civility, engagement and civil political discourse,” Nena Slighting, executive director of the Utah Debate Commission, said.

白小姐一肖一码准选一码For Heaps and our other journalists, the 90 minutes of the debate featured some answers from the candidates, no answers from the candidates, and the search for key moments.

Heaps saw it this way.

白小姐一肖一码准选一码“Early in the debate it became obvious that one of the main storylines would be Vice President Mike Pence talking past his allotted time, how Sen. Kamala Harris’ reacted to this, and how moderator Susan Page would try to intervene. I couldn’t see Page’s face, so I knew hand gestures would be key,” said Heaps.

“I had figured out how to best frame the three participants on the stage, so I just kept waiting for the right moment. Eventually, Page spoke up forcefully, gesturing with her hand up in a ‘stop motion as the vice president, also gesturing, kept talking and Sen. Harris smiled. I knew that moment said a lot about the event. I filed that image first, noting that it was probably the image that best summarized the debate, before digging into the thousands of other images I’d taken and filing those” he said.

白小姐一肖一码准选一码Our photo editor, Chuck Wing agreed. It was used online and was the main photo on the front page in a notable week in Utah.