I’ve covered four presidential debates and here’s where I and most of the other reporters were during the debates themselves: In a nearby room or temporary tent sitting at a long table watching them on television. There isn’t enough space in the halls to fit the huge press corps so only a few print reporters get inside. After the debate, surrogates for each candidate go to the press room to give their “spin” to reporters.
At my first debate, in East Lansing, Michigan in 1992, then Oklahoma Gov. David Walters was among those spinning for then Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton.