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VP candidates set to square off in Virginia’s first debate since 92’

RICHMOND, Va. -- Longwood University has been transformed into the epicenter of the 2016 presidential campaign ahead of Tuesday’s debate between VP candidates Mike Pence and Tim Kaine.

It will be the first presidential debate held in Virginia in nearly 25 years. The last one was hosted by the University of Richmond.

The night of October 15, 1992, may have been the most nerve racking moment of Randy Fitzgerald’s life.


Fitzgerald, then the Communications Director for the University of Richmond, was in charge of making sure the whole debate went off without a hitch.

“We were working 15-20 hour days,” said Fitzgerald, who said the long hours began at least three months prior to the debate and lasted seven days a week.

Candidates Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Ross Perot squared off that night in the first ever town hall style debate. Fitzgerald said the campaigns sparred behind the scenes over the finest details.

“There was such an incredible argument between the campaigns about what kinds of stools to have,” said Fitzgerald.

Randy Fitzgerald

Randy Fitzgerald

The 1992 debate was the turning point of the election, according to some political analysts.

President Bush was caught on camera looking down at his watch during the debate.  That moment, coupled with Clinton’s performance, helped turn the tide of the election, experts said.

Virginia State Delegate Jennifer McClellan was a junior at the University of Richmond then and was invited to watch the debate in Hillary Clinton’s box.

McClellan said being that close to the process and witnessing that moment in presidential history helped her make up her mind to enter the political realm.

“It actually started me on the path that I am on today,” said McClellan.


Both Fitzgerald and McClellan said they will be watching Tuesday night’s debate at Longwood closely.  However, considering his experience 24 year ago, Fitzgerald said he will be keeping an eye out for something specific.

“To see everything goes off without a hitch,” he said with a grin.

You can watch the debate starting at 9 p.m. Tuesday on CBS 6.