MANCHESTER, N.H.(Jan. 7, 2012) — At six-feet,one-inch tall, Christian Dubois, a freshman at Saint Anslem College, measured up to a special task for the New Hampshire primary debate.
“I kind of just fell into this,” he said, “because I’m the same height as Rick Perry.”
Dubois has been the stand-in for Texas Gov. Perry as Saint Anselm prepped for the debate. He’s one 16 students, he said, chosen play the roles of candidates and journalists in the lead-up to the debate. The primary has also engaged scores of the college’s students in politics and the electoral process.
Freshman Bill Travasio of Swampscott, Mass., is a stand-in for one of the moderators, news anchor Josh McElveen of WMUR Channel 9. He was drawn to Saint Anselm — nicknamed “Saint A’s” — because of its relationship to the debates and the New Hampshire primary. The college is a central hub for journalists, political scientists and campaign events.
“This really is the best way to be a part of the debate,” he said. “The different people that you meet and the interactions you can have with the candidates and the anchors is just fantastic. And for the most part you really can’t get that anywhere else.”
Criminal justice major Ryan Sandford had never been much interested in politics — until Saint A’s enlisted him for primary chores. “Doing this has given me a new interest for our country’s future in general,” he said. “It’s really broadened my perspective about politics and working with the organizers has been a real amazing experience to be part of.”
He’s had the chance to do new things, he said. Saturday night, for example, he’s going to be wearing a head-cam. He’s going to be a walking DVR to show the behind-the-scenes action to other students. “I’m not sure what that’s going to entail,” he said, “but I’ll be wearing that as I run around.”
Freshman Christina Delaney was trying to tickets for the debate — and ended up as an intern with ABC. Delaney has been working with ABC over the last few days, setting up rooms and hanging signs. “I didn’t know that this much work went into this,” she said. “It’s really crazy to know that our little college is where everyone else is going to be watching.”
For freshman Christian Dubois, Saturday was his third day standing in as Rick Perry. “It’s pretty tiring standing up for two hours straight,” he said. He and the other stand-ins were often on their feet for two to four hours at a stretch. They had to be in place for the technicians to get correct camera angles, lighting and sound. He’s met George Stephanopolis, one of the ABC moderators, and learned a lot about politics and the press.
“It’s a pretty amazing experience,” Dubois said. “And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
(Sistina Giordano, a graduate student in the magazine, newspaper and online journalism program at Syracuse University, is covering the New Hampshire primary for The Citizen of Auburn, N.Y.)