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Saint Anselm College Hosts Voters First Forum

August 05, 2015

Communications and Marketing
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From left Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum and Scott Walker take the stage at the Voters First Forum. MARK BOLTON/UNION LEADER

On the evening of August 3, 14 Republican presidential candidates participated in the Voters First Forum, held in the Dana Center at Saint Anselm College. The Forum, sponsored by the New Hampshire Union Leader, the Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.), The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA), iHeart Radio, KCRG-TV (Cedar Rapids, IA) and WLTX-TV (Columbia, S.C.), brought numerous candidates to the stage to speak to a packed theater of interested voters.

Candidates included former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Ohio Governor John Kasich, former New York Governor George Pataki, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio were unable to attend the debate as they had to vote on legislation in Washington; however, they were able to participate via satellite.

Full Video: Voters First Presidential Forum (C-SPAN)

The two-hour forum was moderated by WGIR's Jack Heath. Candidates participated in two rounds of questioning. During the first round each candidate had several minutes to answer questions, which were submitted by New Hampshire voters in advance through an online form. The top two issues among voters were immigration and the economy. Candidates answered questions about each of these topics and others including college tuition, the Affordable Care Act, and climate change.

During the second round, the question and answer periods were shorter, and candidates had 30 seconds to respond.

PHOTOS: View "behind the scenes" images from students, and event photos from our partners at the Union Leader by visiting

Nearly two dozen Saint Anselm College students had a unique opportunity at the Forum; they acted as candidate stand-ins during rehearsal, assisted candidates in their hold rooms, and provided help to general audience and staff members. Junior Kelsey Walsh stated, "My favorite part of last night was standing in during rehearsal for our presidential hopefuls. It is crazy to think that I was standing on the same stage as possibly our next president." Junior Robbie Merritt added, "Sitting in the audience at the Forum, I had to just take a moment to realize that I was in the same room as possibly the next President of the United States, and to realize that this upcoming election is going to be unfolding right here on my college campus. And that's something pretty special."

The Forum was broadcast live on C-SPAN; on all Hearst Television Inc. stations, including Manchester affiliate WMUR-TV; NECN; WGIR-AM; NHPR; NH1, and WTPL.

Additional Event Coverage:

Story by Katelyn Ellison; Photo courtesy of Mark Bolton, New Hampshire Union Leader.

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