A Truly Live Debate
ABOVE PHOTO: Michael Baisden.
Nationally-syndicated talk show host Michael Baisden brought his tour of electoral Battleground States to Philadelphia Tuesday night.
By Denise Clay
Normally, when Michael Baisden has an appearance in a city, he's the star of the show and there's no denying that.
But when he stepped into Universal Audenreid High School at 33rd on Tuesday night, he made it clear that on this night he was the co-star.
The star that night was President Barack Obama. And he wanted the folks gathered at Audenreid to know just how important it is to renew the President's contract for four more years in the most important role any leading man could play: president of the United States.
"We get together for a lot of things that are fun," he said. "I wanted us to get together for something civic and there's nothing more important civically than voting."
PHOTO: Universal Companies founder Kenny Gamble was in attendance at the WDAS Presidential Debate watch party hosted by Michael Baisden.
(Photo by H. Michael Hammie)
Baisden brought his tour of Battleground States to Philadelphia as a means of trying to get people to focus on the importance of this election. While he knows he won't reach nearly as many people in person through a debate party than he would through his radio show broadcast locally on WDAS-FM, in his mind Republicans had raised the stakes, he said.
"Republicans have gotten crazier," he said. "When you go from [John] McCain, who was at least very rational when it came to civil issues, was very responsible when it came to spending, and now you have the Republicans who have completely gone off the reservation when it comes to social issues, when it comes to military spending when it comes to women's rights, and we're talking about Roe vs. Wade in 2012; it was obviously important to get [President Obama] elected in 2008 because of how the country was going, but now it's important in terms of keeping things from going over the edge in terms of how they're managing the country financially and in terms of these social issues."
Because Audenreid has a partnership with WDAS-FM and boasts a state-of-the-art high school auditorium, it was a natural fit for Baisden and the debate party. It was also a good fit because of how much attention the students have paid to the election, said Raheem Islam, president and CEO of Universal Companies.
PHOTO: Phila. NAACP Branch president J. Whyatt Mondesire spoke to crowds at the Presidential Debate watch party as WDAS' radio personality Patty Jackson listens at podium.
(Photo by H. Michael Hammie)
"From what I've gathered at all of the schools that we manage, the election has been a big issue; I mean, it's really front and center," Islam said. "There is a tremendous amount of love for Barack Obama on behalf of our community and the young people...that love could not be demonstrated any better than seeing the young people so excited about him being the president of the United States."
The party was also a chance to show the rest of the city the "new" 33rd and Tasker, said Kenny Gamble, founder of Universal Companies.
"As you ride around 33rd and Tasker, and you see the neighborhood, you see this beautiful school, which is state-of-the-art, and the neighborhood has been totally refurbished, this is a neighborhood that's in transition," Gamble said. "The old ideas don't apply anymore.
Among those who took the time to come to the new Audenreid for the debate party was Janice Matthews of Delaware County. She was there not only for the chance to see Baisden, but also because she recognizes this election's importance.
"I think that this election is crucial," she said. "And I think that it's crucial that we re-elect Obama. Because if we don't, all of the Republicans that get in are for the wealthy. And most of us aren't wealthy."
About 600 people came out to see Obama and his Republican challenger, Gov. Mitt Romney go at it in the second debate from Hofstra University in New York. The crowd of mostly Obama partisans shouted encouragement to the president while Baisden provided a running commentary.
Prior to the event, the crowd was greeted by WDAS-FM radio personality Patty Jackson, City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, State Rep. Candidate Jordan Harris, Pennsylvania (and Philadelphia) NAACP President J. Whyatt Mondesire and Vincent Thompson, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Voter ID Coalition.
There were also massage and manicure tables, a photo booth that allowed you the chance to take a picture of a cardboard cutout of President Barack Obama, and even a Michael Jackson impersonator.
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