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November 20, 2007
Panel Picks 4 Presidential Debate Sites
For the general election next year:
The Commission on Presidential Debates has picked Oxford, Miss.; St. Louis; Nashville; and Hempstead, N.Y., as the sites of the presidential and vice-presidential debates in the general election campaign next year. The competition between cities is fierce, considering that a debate is not only a prestige event but also dumps millions of dollars in business into the chosen locations.
New Orleans took offense at its omission, with a leader of one Louisiana advocacy group saying she had been told that the city had not recovered sufficiently from Hurricane Katrina to act as host of such an event.
New Orleans was one of 16 finalists and has attracted major conventions since the hurricane devastated much of the city more than two years ago.
This is the first time the bipartisan commission, which has overseen the debates since 1988, plans a format allowing the candidates to question each other. Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., the commission’s Republican co-chairman, said that contrary to past experience, the candidates would not be allowed to change the format.
“The candidates aren’t going to dictate to us anymore,” Mr. Fahrenkopf said.
It appears that the Commission felt New Orleans was too politically charged a venue for a debate to be held there. The Commission prides itself on its non-partisanship and probably saw New Orleans as being an unfair location for Republicans given all the problems associated with the reconstruction.
The debates promise to be interesting, if the Commission goes through with their plan to have the candidates question each other. That should elicit a lot of "How many times did you beat your wife today" questions which should make for a lively discussion.