"First in the Nation: A New Hampshire Town Meeting" (Republicans)
Thursday Oct. 28, 1999 at Moore Theater at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH.  7:30-9:00 p.m. (EST). 

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

Candidates: Gary Bauer, Steve Forbes, Orrin Hatch, Alan Keyes and John McCain.1

Moderators: WMUR lead anchor Tom Griffith and CNN prime anchor anchor Judy Woodruff.

Audience: About 300 New Hampshire voters from the Upper Valley selected by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College.2

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 1.5 million total viewers; 1.6 rating,seen in 1.3 million households.

Overview: Each candidate answered five questions during the course of the evening and, with a bit of time remaining at the end, had 20 seconds to sum up.  The audience applauded following each answer.  A bit of excitement occurred as a woman from Lebanon started to ask the third question--a protester got up, began shouting about the need to cut military spending, and had to be escorted out.  The program received a 1.6 rating, meaning it was 
1. Texas Gov. George W. Bush missed the forum in order to be with his wife Laura, who was being honored as a distinguished alumna at Southern Methodist University.  WMUR-TV nonetheless gave Bush and wife Laura an exclusive live interview via satellite on its 6:00 p.m. newscast.

2. 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.