Palm Beach State College hosted U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and his opponent, U.S. Rep. Val Demings, Oct. 18 in their only debate before the election Nov. 8.
The one-hour debate was part of Florida’s longest-running debate series and drew more than 75 media representatives to the Lake Worth campus.
The event, which was broadcast live across Florida, was organized by a group of nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations and was moderated by WPBF Channel 25 evening news anchor Todd McDermott, Palm Beach Post Executive Editor Rick Christie and Florida Trend Editor Vicki Chachere.
The topics included abortion, border control, voting rights, inflation and gun control.
“It was an honor for Palm Beach State College to host this debate on our campus and to give our students an opportunity to be part of the senatorial election and experience democracy in action,” college President Ava Parker said. “I am hoping that while we have some of our students voting for the first time, we made the kind of impression that will encourage them to continue to be informed voters and citizens.”
Palm Beach State has hosted congressional debates and presidential candidate campaign stops, but this was its first U.S. Senate debate.
Joseph Kleinhenz, the president of the Palm Beach Gardens campus Student Government Association, was one of the 400 people at the debate. “I’m proud to be a participant in the college’s initiative to be included in larger events,” he said. “The bigger universities get much of the attention and notoriety, but there is so much opportunity for other schools to attract some of these major events. … It improves our credibility and increases our attractiveness.”
Phil Alongi II, the chief operating officer of debate producer Alongi Media, praised Palm Beach State for its top-notch facilities and for services as good as those provided at the more than 150 other debates the company has run. Alongi Media was the executive producer of the event, and was thrilled with the outcomes.
The partners and sponsors included the James Madison Institute, AARP Florida, Florida Trend, the LeRoy Collins Institute, the Florida Press Association, the Florida League of Cities, the Florida Everglades Foundation and Florida Realtors.