By Kim Corriher
An audience of more than 1 million people just witnessed the highlight of Ted Dacey's life thus far.
In a debate that aired live this morning on the FOX News Channel, the Ohio University Forensics Team member was representing John McCain's position on the national economy when he leveled a deadpan shot at verbal sparring partner Dan Glaser. His observation: Mike Huckabee's experience overseeing an economy is limited to, uh, Arkansas.
"To land a joke on national television, that's got to be one of the biggest things that will ever happen to me," Dacey said, grinning from ear to ear.
As teammates on the university's Forensics Team, Dacey and Glaser are used to the back-and-forth. This morning, though, their exchange took place in front of a national audience as cable news show FOX & Friends broadcast live from Baker University Center.
Wednesday, it's live from Baker again. The program, which airs from 6 to 9 a.m., will feature a student focus group and audience members who will share their views with national pollster Frank Luntz.
FOX network consultant Woody Fraser said today's live debate by Dacey and Glaser (and another by Glaser's brother Chris and Sarah Hoppes, representing Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, respectively) made history.
"This has never been done before," said Fraser, who created and produced "Good Morning, America" and "Nightline" among others. "I've been doing this for 50 years. I know."
So, what did Fraser think? "I thought they were fabulous. They're fearless. That's the key. You have to be fearless. And they were very well-prepared and articulate."
After the program, team members said they were overwhelmed by the experience and the support they received from, among others, anchors Alisyn Camerota and Geraldo Rivera.
"There's nothing like it," Chris Glaser, a senior, said of the experience. "We've done a lot of great things over the past three years, but I never dreamed, from my first meeting with (coach) Dan West, that we'd go on to do such great things in terms of being competitive around the nation and now appearing live on FOX News.
"I was really proud to be able to share this with my brother, too," Glaser added. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
The university's Forensics Team competes in speech and debate competitions across Ohio and the nation. The team has grown from just one member three years ago when West took over to more than a dozen today. It's steadily risen in national rankings and just last month won the Ohio state championship.
Dacey and Dan Glaser represented McCain and Huckabee in a discussion of jobs and the economy, while Chris Glaser and Hoppes sparred over the war in Iraq.
Camerota, who anchored the Baker Center segments, said network representatives contemplated having the students focus on other topics, including health care and NAFTA, before settling Monday afternoon on subjects they felt could produce "the most heat."
"They turned on a dime," Camerota said. "They left with their marching orders at 5 p.m. yesterday and showed back up at 5 a.m. today ready to go."
Camerota polled audience members for their views on who won the debates, but the clear victor was the team as a whole.
"I thought they were great," junior Kristyn Hall said. "I think it just shows how passionate they are about what they do, to get up in front of a national audience and speak so eloquently."
Beneath their finely polished exteriors, the students didn't lose sight of what a unique and exciting opportunity the day offered.
"I think between my mother and my grandmother, everyone back home was watching," Chris Glaser said. "It's cool. It's exciting. ... It's national television."
The team's 5 a.m. set call meant friends and family across the state were waking up early as well.
"We don't have cable at home, so both of my parents went into work early to watch the show," said Hoppes, whose mother is a special education teacher. "She even convinced her principal to let her keep a television on during her first couple of classes."
The program also offered Ohio University students -- who made up most of the audience -- the opportunity to pose questions to political pundits and anchors, including Rivera and Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, and catch a glimpse of what it takes to produce a national news show.
"This is a great chance to see the raw product," said freshman journalism major Jordan Valinsky. "It's overwhelming, the number of people it takes behind the scenes to make this happen."
And while he appreciated the learning experience the day offered, Valinsky acknowledged that part of what got him out of bed at 4:45 a.m. was, honestly, the chance to be on live television.
"I mean ... it's cool," Valinksy said. "My mom is a loyal 'Good Morning, America' watcher, and even she is watching FOX this morning."
Mary Alice Casey contributed to this report.