"First in the Nation: A New Hampshire Town Meeting" (Democrats)
Wednesday Oct. 27, 1999 at Moore Theater at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH.  8:00-9:00 p.m. (EST). 

Courtesy: CNN/WMUR-TV.
The Questions
Sponsored by: WMUR-TV/Imes Communications Group and CNN/U.S.

Candidates: Vice President Al Gore and former Sen. Bill Bradley (D-NJ).

Moderators: WMUR News Director Karen Brown and CNN's principal anchor Bernard Shaw.

Audience: About 300 New Hampshire voters from the Upper Valley selected by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College.1

Format: After brief opening remarks from the moderators, directly to questions from the audience.  Candidate had 90 seconds to answer the question, then another audience member posed a question.  No commercial breaks.

Simulcast on WMUR and CNN and video-streamed live on wmur.com and CNN.com.

Viewership: Average 1.6 million total viewers; 1.8 rating, seen in 1.4 million households.

Overview: This was the first forum between the two Democratic candidates and it drew major media attention.  The format was designed to foster a conversation between the candidates and the audience rather than a full-fledged debate. During the hour-long program, Gore responded to thirteen questions from members of the audience and Bradley to twelve.  The topics covered everything from health care and education to leadership.  

1. WMUR and CNN tasked The Rockefeller Center with finding a representative group of citizens from the Upper Valley area of the state.  The Center sent out letters to about 115 groups within a radius of a 45-minute drive of Dartmouth--everything from volunteer firemen to social service groups--asking each organization to submit names of up to five people who would be interested in participating.  The Center also sent out letters to major employers in the area and placed ads in the local newspapers.  A pool of 600-700 names for the Democrat town meeting resulted and about 400 for the Republican.  Using a lottery, this was narrowed to about 260 names for each night, which were submitted to CNN and WMUR. CNN and WMUR then called all of these participants and invited them to submit a question.  When they had all the questions, they selected those that covered a broad range of issues and insured that each candidate would have roughly the same number of questions to answer.  Tickets for the balcony and stage were also distributed to Dartmouth faculty, students and staff through a lottery.

Copyright 1999  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.