Nation News

Volunteers stand front and center on stage for GOP debate

From the 554 potential volunteers that applied to take part in the Republican national debate Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Moore’s Opera House, five lucky students were selected to serve as stand-ins for the real presidential candidates while CNN sets up lights and sound before the nationally televised debate.

The stand-ins started Tuesday and will work one ten-hour shift Wednesday. CNN went through hundreds of applicants to find students that physically represented the candidates the most.

“It’s for rehearsal, so we are shooting and looking at real bodies and real positions,” Technical Manager for CNN Special Events Steve Dolce said. “Even though they’re not the candidates, it’s the closest representation that we came to — skin tone, people, body, shadows. If you don’t have a body there, you don’t know what you’re shooting at.”

The debate has given several students across the University the opportunity to be a vital part of a presidential debate. Students who are engaged in campus politics such as Student Government Association are greatly impacted by their national counterparts setting up shop in their backyard. 

SGA senator and chemical engineering senior Clint Kirchhoff was selected to be one of the stand-ins for the debate. He said he had an interest in joining SGA before he became a UH student.

“It has been a wonderful opportunity to help catalyze change at this University,” Kirchhoff said about his time working for SGA. “I was excited when I heard about the debate in general, it reflects well on our university. It gives us the opportunity to display the wonderful progress this University has been making on the national stage for a number of days. Having national media is good for name recognition.”

Engineering and politics are not a typical mix, but for Kirchhoff, these two fields are his passions. He hopes by participating as a stand in, he will absorb more information about the way national politics work.

“I really look forward to learning more about the debate process, primaries and all sorts of political processes that surround this debate,” Kirchhoff said. “It is an unusual trait for an engineer, but I guess that’s why I’m the engineering senator for SGA.”

Petroleum engineering senior Analicia Caylor is also a stand-in volunteer. Caylor said she believes the debate is essential to promoting the University’s success as a Tier-One institution.

“I want to volunteer because I understand that having this Republican debate is a part of history,” Caylor said. “This is an excellent opportunity for us and I believe that I can represent our University well. This is our chance to show all of the attendees and news media what UH is made of.”

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