Oct. 2, 2008 – Vice Presidential Debate

The eyes of the world were once again on Washington University as it hosted the most anticipated vice presidential debate in U.S. history.

Joe Biden vs. Sarah Palin

Sen. Joe Biden and Gov. Sarah Palin on the 2008 debate stage. (CNN photo)

Sen. Joe Biden and Gov. Sarah Palin on the 2008 debate stage. (CNN photo)

Tens of millions in the United States and around the world watched as Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware and Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska squared off on stage in the Field House in the university’s Athletics Complex.

The 90-minute debate was moderated by Gwen Ifill, managing editor of PBS’ “Washington Week” and senior correspondent for “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.”

Each candidate stood at a podium under bright lights, while the audience quietly sat in darkness, instructed not to react to either of the candidates’ statements. More than 7,940 Washington University students entered the debate ticket lottery and a record 432 students got tickets to be inside the debate hall.

In answering Ifill’s questions on both foreign and domestic policy, Palin, running mate of Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and Biden, running mate of Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, faced off on myriad issues ranging from the rights of same-sex couples to climate change.

An unprecedented number of media, approximately 3,100, descended on the Washington University campus during debate week. It was the most watched vice presidential debate in history with nearly 69.9 million viewers.  It was also the first time that a vice presidential debate was hosted by Washington University.