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The Latest: Spin room buzzing at Las Vegas debate site

A member of the media walks past the Thomas & Mack Center, site of the third presidential debate between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at UNLV in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
October 19, 2016 - 7:15 PM

LAS VEGAS - The Latest on the scene leading up to the final debate in the U.S. presidential race (all times local):

6:05 p.m.

Many of the thousands of journalists who descended on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to cover the debate are crowded into a spin room where they are preparing to pound out stories about the action.

Reporters speaking in Spanish, German and Japanese are dodging each other as they do impromptu Facebook Live broadcasts in selfie mode and go live in front of blinding lights.

Surrogates for the campaigns are weaving through piles of camera bags and dodging tripods to offer themselves up for interviews.

Reporters who were anxiously talking on their cellphones will soon take their seats at the rows of tables topped with laptops and watch the debate from one of the dozens of TV screens dangling from the ceiling.

This is the third and final debate between presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.


5:50 p.m.

Richard McCaslin pedaled a four-wheeled bike shortly before Wednesday's presidential debate was set to start in Las Vegas.

The 52-year-old resident of Pahrump, Nevada, wore a denim jacket with the words "phantom patriot" stitched to the back. He says that's the name he uses at protests.

McCaslin's bike is covered with signs calling for an end to global tyranny and saying Republican and Democrat criminals won't save America.

He believes the whole political system is corrupt and designed to "conquer the American people." McCaslin said he plans to support Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

McCaslin says Stein's views represent the "only sane" choice for president.


5:15 p.m.

Rives Grogan says he's been at all three presidential debate sites, and he was in Las Vegas on Wednesday encouraging voters to back Donald Trump.

The 51-year-old Grogan describes himself as a minister to people who are homeless and addicted and as a part-time pizza delivery man.

Grogan, who lives in Mansfield, Texas, says he's trying to encourage America to vote for Trump, reject Hillary Clinton and avoid God's judgment.

Grogan and Paul Naughton were holding signs showing their opposition to abortion. The two men were standing with about 20 protesters of various causes in a sunbaked parking lot designated a "public expression area." About 20 security guards stood around the free speech zone.

The area is about two blocks from the debate hall at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.


4:35 p.m.

Mick Jagger's sore throat may have helped ease a bad case of congestion Wednesday.

The Rolling Stones cancelled its concert in Las Vegas when frontman Jagger was told by doctors to rest his voice after coming down with laryngitis.

Some 20,000 fans were expected to descend on the T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip about the same time authorities were closing roads and freeways surrounding the nearby Thomas & Mack Center. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas arena will be hosting Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the final debate of the presidential election.

About 1,000 people were expected inside the debate hall, and many more outside.

Authorities warned residents and tourists to prepare for blocked streets and detours around McCarran International Airport, at UNLV, and on some major roads crossing the busy Las Vegas Strip.


4:10 p.m.

Candace Blalock flew with her son from Oklahoma City to Las Vegas, knowing she didn't have a ticket to the debate but wanting to be part of the goings-on.

She found her way to be first in line for a campus viewing party at the UNLV Student Union.

"I've learned that Democracy is really messy," she said. "But I'm an optimist, and I think it's an institution that will survive this tremendously upsetting campaign."

Blalock might be from a mostly Republican state, but she's made a stand. She points to a Hillary 2016 pin on her blouse.

Now 73 and retired, Blalock says she's "liberated and enthusiastic" about expressing her opinion after serving 16 years as a non-partisan elected Oklahoma state court judge from Pauls Valley, about 60 miles south of Oklahoma City.

"I expect perhaps there'll be a little more policy questions asked of Hillary," Blalock said of the debate. "I expect Donald will be Donald."


3:45 p.m.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas graduate student Sparkle Payne took the scene in stride as she crossed campus Wednesday after psychology class.

Her campus was bustling in preparation for the final debate between presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Payne didn't plan to attend the event but wanted "everyone to tune in" to see Trump's antics.

"This is the biggest, most controversial debate," Payne said. "It's huge."

Security was tight, and some roads leading to campus were closed.

Uniformed police from Las Vegas and surrounding cities bunched in groups of six and eight in the campus quad, chatting with each other. Most had riot-gear packs strapped to their thighs.

Media and the first spectators gathered in front of the Thomas & Mack Center, where parking lots were bordered with a two-story barrier of tan metal shipping crates.


3:10 p.m.

Some of the action before the third and final debate was happening away from the UNLV campus that is playing host to the televised event.

On Wednesday afternoon several taco trucks lined up outside the Trump Hotel, about three miles from the campus and just off the Las Vegas Strip. The food trucks joined Grammy Award-winning band Los Tigres Del Norte, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, progressive groups and union members to rally against the GOP candidate and to protest a fight over organizing the hotel's workforce.

In September, Marco Gutierrez, founder of the group Latinos for Trump, said if something was not done about his own "very dominant" culture, "you're going to have taco trucks on every corner."

On Tuesday the trucks fanned out across the city to register voters.


12:56 p.m.

Hours before Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump meet for their third and final presidential debate, it was anything but quiet outside the Thomas & Mack Center on the UNLV campus in Las Vegas.

Media members, marching bands and supporters of all stripes assembled under sunny skies on the campus not far from the busy Las Vegas Strip.

Media outlets are broadcasting live, speculating on the candidates' debate strategy and decorum.

The Rebels marching band tuned up while noisy supporters and detractors chanted loudly under the watchful eyes of a promised large contingent of law officers, including Las Vegas and UNLV police, Secret Service agents and Nevada Highway Patrol troopers.

Air space over the arena has been cleared, and road closures are expected to snarl traffic.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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