Centre College proposes debate for Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race in partnership with AARP and WAVE3 News
In the spirit of the civic duty that inspired Centre College to twice host vice presidential debates, John A. Roush, Centre’s president, announced today that the College has formally proposed to host a debate for Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race.
The announcement was made at a morning news conference in front of Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts, where both the 2000 and 2012 vice presidential debates took place.
Roush was joined at the news conference by representatives for the proposed debate’s sponsoring and media partners. State Director Ron Bridges and State President Jim Kimbrough spoke on behalf of AARP Kentucky, and Vice President and General Manager Ken Selvaggi spoke on behalf of WAVE3 News.
In his opening remarks, Roush referenced Thomas Jefferson’s famous comment that “whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”
Roush added, “I think Kentuckians want a debate, and we hope to provide a venue where the voters can get to know the candidates and learn more about their positions.”
Given the Congressional calendar, Centre, AARP and WAVE3 News have proposed the date of Sept. 3, 2014, from 8 to 9 p.m. The debate would be open to any candidate who receives at least 10 percent support in the NBC News/Marist poll prior to Aug. 1. Only Senator Mitch McConnell and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes currently meet these criteria.
While other dates agreeable to both candidates would be considered, Roush expressed a strong interest in dates after Sept. 1, so that Centre students would be on campus.
“Our past debate experiences were once-in-a-lifetime educational opportunities for our students,” Roush said. “We would hope to involve them in this debate as well.”
The proposed U.S. Senate debate would take place in Newlin Hall, the same venue where, in 2000, vice presidential candidates Joseph Lieberman and Dick Cheney debated. More recently, Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan engaged in a lively conversation on the Newlin Hall stage with ABC’s Martha Raddatz on Oct. 11, 2012.
“We are hopeful that our previous experiences at the ‘center of the political universe’ will inspire confidence in the candidates to consider Centre College as a logical setting in which to discuss their positions on the many pressing issues important to Kentucky and our nation,” said Roush. “Our partners only strengthen the proposal.”
Centre has worked previously with AARP, which sponsored the 2012 Debate Festival that provided an opportunity for some 10,000 participants to join in the day’s festivities and watch the vice presidential debate live on a jumbotron screen just a stone’s throw from the debate venue.
In seeking a media partner, Centre focused on being able to provide broad statewide coverage, both on television and radio.
WAVE3 News has secured a network of stations to carry the debate live, including WLEX-TV (Lexington), WXIX-TV (Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky), WFIE-TV (Owensboro/Henderson), KFVS-TV (Cape Girardeau, Mo./Paducah), WQWQ-TV (Paducah), WQTV-TV (Murray) and WSAZ-TV (Huntington, W. Va/Ashland). Radio stations WHAS-AM (Louisville) and WGKY/WREZ/WZZL-FM (Paducah) would also carry the debate live, along with other radio stations across the Commonwealth.
In addition, WAVE3 News has made its journalists Scott Reynolds and Shannon Cogan available as moderators for the debate.
Of the 2000 vice president debate, dubbed the “Thrill in the ’Ville,” the Associated Press commented that Centre’s execution was “as close to flawless as humanly possible,” and Dan Rather said, “Centre put on a five-star debate.” Of the 2012 “Thrill in the ’Ville II,” Janet Brown, executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates, said of Centre, “They aced it in 2000, and this year was even better.”
With 51.4 million viewers, the 2012 vice presidential debate at Centre was the third-most watched general election debate, behind only the 2008 Biden-Palin debate (69.9 million) and the 1984 Bush-Ferraro debate (56.7 million).
by Michael Strysick