Centre College moves step closer to hosting presidential debate
DANVILLE, KY- Centre College moved a step closer to becoming a host site for a 2000 presidential debate after Janet Brown, executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates, visited the campus today (Monday, Nov. 8).
Although Brown emphasized that the final site selection will not take place until early January, she said that her tour of the campus and meetings with college officials showed that Centre does meet all the basic criteria for becoming a site.
"One of my missions in coming here," Brown said at an afternoon press conference, "was to examine the proposed debate hall and the media filing site to verify the claims about facilities made by Centre in its proposal. My tour of Newlin Hall in the Norton Center confirmed that it is well suited to serve as a debate hall, and the close proximity of Sutcliffe Hall makes it appropriate for the media filing site."
Brown was complimentary of the campus and the community, saying that she received an "unbelievably warm welcome." She laughingly told reporters that Centre has "a secret weapon" for presidential debates in the form of President John Roush, who helped organize the 1992 presidential debate at the University of Richmond, where he was serving as vice president. "John Roush has done one of these debates before. and the commission knows that he understands what is required to make it work."
After arriving in Danville around 9:30 a.m., Brown took a quick tour of the town followed by a meeting with college officials and tour of the Norton Center for the Arts. She served as a guest lecturer in a class on Constitutional law in late morning and, following a campus luncheon, hosted a press conference at 2 p.m. Brown concluded her visit with a public reception planned especially for Centre students and local civic leaders. Around 150 persons greeted her at the event.
During the press conference, Brown estimated that around 2,000 media personnel will cover each presidential debate next year, along with a television production crew of around 150 and close to 350 political campaign staffers. That means at least 2,500 visitors and guests in the region, requiring the use of hotels and other lodging beyond Boyle County. Brown indicated that Centre has adequately described its plans for providing transportation and shuttle services for reporters who lodge at some distance from the campus.
Brown said that the Commission on Presidential Debates is often urged to hold all debates in large metropolitan areas for the convenience of the major media networks, but the Commission remains committed to holding debates at varied locations around the country because "the debates belong to the American people." She says colleges campuses make ideal host sites because they get students involved as volunteers and participants, often igniting a lifelong interest in political activism.
Centre is one of 12 sites announced by the commission in mid-October as finalists to host the upcoming round of presidential debates. The 12 finalists are:
Centre College, Danville, Ky.
Chamber of Commerce, Charlotte
John F. Kennedy Library and the University of Massachusetts, Boston
Michigan State University, East Lansing
Shenandoah University, Winchester, Va.
St. Petersburg Times, Fla.
University of California, Los Angeles
University of Portland, Ore.
University of Southern California, Los Angeles
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Wake Forest University and the Winston-Salem (NC) Convention and Visitors Bureau
Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.
Brown says the Commission will recommend that this cycle of debates include three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate. The actual number of debates, along with dates and times, will be decided by the commission's 11-member board in consultation with the candidates and their sponsoring parties.
The Commission on Presidential Debates sponsored and produced the presidential and vice presidential debates in 1988, 1992 and 1996. The CPD was established in 1987 as the result of two formal studies: one by the Commission on National Elections and another by the Twentieth Century Fund (Century Foundation). Both panels recommended the establishment of a permanent, independent debate sponsor. The nonpartisan, nonprofit CPD was created with a two-fold mandate: to sponsor general election presidential and vice presidential debates, and to undertake educational and research efforts related to the debates.
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Commission on Presidential Debates - media director John Scardino, telephone 202-737-7733
Commission on Presidential Debates - main office, telephone 202-872-1020
Centre College news service - Patsi Barnes Trollinger, 606-238-5719
Centre College - www.centre.edu
Commission on Presidential Debates - www.debates.org
600 W. Walnut Street
Danville, KY 40422