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University of Denver Prepares For Presidential Debate

Students at the University of Denver say that despite the hassle they are excited about the presidential debate on campus.

While President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney prepare to square off in their first presidential debate at the University of Denver, students are prepared for an unusual day on campus.

The university cancelled all classes for the day to prepare for Wednesday's debate on domestic policy. Junior Zack Drum plans to enjoy his day off by staying far away from the excitement.

"They won't let us park anywhere on campus today," said Drum.  "So I'm not going to be down there because they are closing all the roads around campus. I'm going to avoid that."

Despite the hassle, Drum and fellow students are excited that the event is being held at their school.  

"It's such an exciting time on campus because we have been building up to it for months," said junior Leslee Warren. "Having the debate at DU is an awesome opportunity for students and faculty.  We've been preparing for months and now it's time to see it in action."

Warren, a molecular bio major, and Drum, a biochemistry major, are from the Denver-suburb Highlands Ranch.  Both hope that the event will help boost national recognition for the University.

"We are happy that DU is going to be put on more of a national stage," said Drum.  "It's pretty cool that my grandparents who live on the east coast are hearing about my school.  They had never heard of it before I started going there."

With only 5,000 undergraduates on campus, students were initially optimistic about getting tickets to the event.

"At first they told us about 1,000 students would get tickets, which was pretty exciting since we have a pretty small population," said Drum.  "But then they reduced the ticket amount to only 92, so people aren't really happy about that."

The University held a raffle on Monday to draw the names of the students selected to attend the event.  Students who weren't lucky enough to get a ticket can either watch from home or take part in the student run "Debate Fest" going on all day on campus.

The carnival-type festival will feature bands throughout the day including the Denver-based rock band, The Lumineers.  At night, it will feature a live stream viewing of the debates.

Denver, the Rocky Mountain state's capital, returns as a political stage after hosting the much-praised 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Former PBS NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer will moderate the debate that starts at 9 p.m. EST.  Tonight will mark Lehrer's twelfth appearance as moderator for the presidential debates.

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