An inconspicuous email from the Commission on Presidential Debates traversed the Internet last Monday containing a list of 19 organizations.
In the bottom half of the alphabetical list: the University of Miami.
If the university is selected to host one of the three coveted presidential debates, it would be the second time in as many election cycles.
Such a recurrence, as the commission’s online archives indicate, is not unprecedented: Washington University in St. Louis hosted the third presidential debate in 2000 and the second presidential debate in 2004 (they are also among the 2008 applicants).
Since the application is general, UM is in the running to host the single vice presidential debate.
“Hosting a presidential debate is such an incredible opportunity,” said Rudy Fernandez, vice president for government affairs. He added that doing so energizes and excites the campus, as well as gives students and faculty a chance to participate n something “very unique.”
Joining the university in February, Fernandez serves as a liaison between the university and governments on the federal, state and local levels. He previously worked in the White House as a special assistant for President George W. Bush.
Fernandez noted that President Donna E. Shalala hopes the debate will culminate a series of election-related events planned for the upcoming academic year.
According to the CPD selection form and guidelines, applications were due March 31 and required a $7,500 non-refundable fee to cover associated costs. Karla V. Hernandez, associate director of media relations, declined to disclose the source of the funds and said the university does not publicly release a copy of its application.
The next step in the selection process involves site visits by the commission staff, which will occur from April to June. The CPD will then review the proposals and site surveys before making a decision in October.
UM hosted the first presidential debate of 2004 on Sept. 30 in the former Convocation Center
Television viewership last time UM hosted: 62.4 million (Nielsen Media Reasearch)
250 students attended the debate; they were selected from a group of 689 who submitted essays
3,000 credentialed media attended, with “Crossfire” broadcast from the UC Patio and “Hardball” from the UC Rock
Applicants to host the 2008 president debate:
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Belmont University, Nashville, TN
Centre College, Danville, KY
Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County, Indiana
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY
Indiana University and the City of Bloomington’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau
MERC, Portland, OR
Ohio State University, National Public Radio, and Public Broadcasting Station, Columbus, OH
State of Illinois (Lakeside Center/McCormick Place, Chicago)
University of Central Arkansas, Conway, AR
University of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, OH
University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS
Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC
Washington State University, Spokane, WA
Washington University in St. Louis, MO
Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
Women of the Storm, New Orleans, LA
Information courtesy debates.org and miami.edu
Greg Linch may be contacted at email@example.com.