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Front of Howard Baker Center - 10.25-16 - Photo by Kellie Crye Ward

UT’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy will host the second and final debate in the Senate race between Representative Marsha Blackburn and former governor Phil Bredesen at 8 p.m. EDT Wednesday, October 10.

The debate is a partnership between the Baker Center and Nexstar Media Group Inc., which will broadcast the event statewide. Nexstar is the parent company of local ABC affiliate WATE-TV.

“The Baker Center is honored to contribute to the nation’s democratic process by hosting this signature debate between our two Tennessee candidates for US Senate,” said the center’s director, Matt Murray. “The effectiveness of democracy hinges on an educated electorate, citizen engagement, and informed debate.”

The debate will be filmed on a closed set with no audience. UT will host a live remote viewing event at Cox Auditorium in the Alumni Memorial Building, 1408 Middle Drive, starting at 7:45 p.m. EDT, with doors open at 7 p.m.

Campaigns will be given tickets to distribute for the remote viewing event, and 300 tickets will be available for the general public on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets are free and can be picked up at the Baker Center between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday, October 8, with a limit of two per person. Attendees are welcome to wear attire in support of candidates, though signage will not be allowed inside the auditorium.

At the remote viewing, UT System President Joe DiPietro will provide opening remarks and representatives from UT’s Adam Brown Social Media Command Center will provide live analysis.

“We are very lucky to partner with the Baker Center to provide real-time social media analysis during the senatorial debate,” said Courtney Childers, associate professor and executive director of the command center. “Our students in the College of Communication and Information benefit from this technology on a daily basis, and we are excited to create an engaging debate experience for the audience.”

The command center, established in 2016 with a gift from advertising alumni Adam Brown and Charlie Tombras, is one of only a few such facilities housed at a university. It offers students, faculty, and staff full access to Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud Social Studio, a technology used by Fortune 100 companies to publish, engage, and analyze their social media marketing activities.

Debate Rules

All questions for the debate will be generated by Tennessee voters and journalists connected to Nexstar Media Group stations. The questions, which will remain secret until the broadcast, will be asked by a panel of three journalists representing stations in Knoxville, Nashville, and Memphis.

The panelists are Kristin Farley with WATE-TV, Bob Mueller with WKRN-TV, and Richard Ransom with WATN-TV. Katina Rankin, with WATN-TV, will host the broadcast.

Each candidate will be asked the same question and given 60 seconds to respond, followed by 30 seconds to respond to, clarify, or refute his or her opponent. Panelists will be allowed at their discretion to ask a follow-up question of each candidate.

A timekeeper on stage will hold up a sign letting candidates know when they have 15 seconds remaining for their answers, and a bell will sound when time is up. The candidates will not be allowed to bring notes, papers, campaign material, or electronic devices on stage. The candidates will be provided with a blank notebook, a pen, and water.

Media coverage: The Tennessean, August 13; Associated Press, August 29; WATE, August 30; Associated Press, September 25; Daily Beacon, September 25; Associated Press, September 25 (Ran in 134 outlets); News Sentinel, September 26


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