Saint Anselm College has hosted presidential candidates, political pundits, and media for political debates, town halls, and other events for more than 40 years, offering students unmatched access to the democratic process.
2024 Republican Presidential Primary Debate
ABC News has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2024 Republican Presidential Debate that was scheduled for Sullivan Arena on Thursday, Jan. 18.
ABC shared the following statement: “Our intent was to host a debate coming out of the Iowa caucuses, but we always knew that would be contingent on the candidates and the outcome of the race. As a result, while our robust election coverage will continue, ABC News and WMUR-TV will not be moving forward with Thursday’s Republican presidential primary debate in New Hampshire.” We fully support our partners, ABC News and WMUR.
Saint Anselm College is disappointed but our students have still gained invaluable experience and connections working for ABC News and WMUR-TV.
We are thankful to the many members of our community who have worked so hard in preparation for this debate. We look forward to continuing our participation in activities for the upcoming NH presidential primary alongside the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.
Every college has a president. But only one college has had every United States president. And those who wanted to be president, for the past 60 years.
Saint Anselm College has a long, rich history of hosting politicians, pundits, journalists, Washington power-brokers, and presidential candidates on campus.
Senator John F. Kennedy greets students outside of the Abbey Theater at Saint Anselm College on March 5, 1960.
In 1960, then-Senator and presidential hopeful John F. Kennedy visited campus twice; on his second visit, he gave a historic speech about America's conduct in the new realities of the emerging Cold War.
The day after declaring his candidacy for the 1968 election, Richard Nixon's first stop was a reception at Saint Anselm College, where he unveiled his campaign strategy regarding the Vietnam War
In the last 60 years, additional presidential candidates include (but not limited to): Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush., George W. Bush, Bob Dole, Jesse Jackson, Al Gore, Mike Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden.
The college hosted its first presidential primary debate in 1984, featuring Walter Mondale, Gary Hart and Jesse Jackson. It was sponsored by the League of Women Voters and moderated by Barbara Walters.
1988 - The League of Women Voters sponsored separate Democratic and Republican debates broadcast by Cable News Network (later known as CNN). The 1988 Democratic forum featured Mike Dukakis, Al Gore, Bruce Babbitt, Dick Gephardt, Gary Hart, Paul Simon, and Jesse Jackson. The next day George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, Jack Kemp, Pierre S. du Pont, and Pat Robertson gathered for the Republican debate.
Candidates for the Republican Party nomination on the stage of the Dana Center for the Humanities at Saint Anselm College during the League of Women Voters Presidential Debate on February 14, 1988, ahead of the New Hampshire Primary.
1992 – Democratic debates in the Dana Center reported by CNN and New Hampshire Public Radio. The candidates included Jerry Brown, Bill Clinton, Tom Harkin, Bob Kerrey, and Paul Tsongas.
1996 - Republican debates sponsored by CNN with candidates Bob Dole, Steve Forbes, and Pat Buchanan. Since then, it has hosted at least one presidential primary debate in each presidential election since 2004.
December 2015 and January 2016 - Democratic and Republican Debates aired by ABC News.
February 2020 - Saint Anselm College with ABC Television Network hosted the only head-to-head presidential primary debate in New Hampshire for the Democratic Party on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020 in the Thomas F. Sullivan Arena.
ABC partnered with Saint Anselm College, Apple News, and ABC-affiliated television station WMUR-TV. The Democratic primary debate took place just days ahead of the state's first-in-the-nation primary election on February 11, 2020.
Inside the Debate
On February 7, 2020, the nation's eyes were on Saint Anselm College as it hosted the democratic debate featuring candidates for president.
Founded on the premise that an educated citizenry is vital for a healthy democracy, its mission is to educate, engage and empower citizens to participate in the civic and political life of their local, national and global communities.
The Institute offers unparalleled opportunities to be in the front row of the democratic process.
Visitors and speakers include:
Celebrating 20 Years
In 2022, the New Hampshire Institute of Politics celebrated its 20th anniversary being a must-stop destination for any and every politician on their way to the White House, while also serving as an important place for the community to come together, share ideas, and engage.