Clark College and the Metropolitan Exposition Recreation Commission (MERC) of Portland say they are committed to continuing their efforts to bring a presidential debate to the Pacific Northwest. Their announcement followed news that the region was not selected to host a debate in 2008.
Clark College President Robert K. Knight said, “We have been proud to partner with MERC in a true bi-state effort representing our entire region. We’ve not only been working to host the first debate ever in the Pacific Northwest – we have been striving to be the first community college ever to serve as the educational sponsor for a presidential debate.”
Knight cited what he called “outstanding support on behalf of our bid.” He noted strong support from members of the debate bid steering committee, including Congressman Brian Baird, Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard and Jim Jacks, Southwest Washington representative for Governor Chris Gregoire. Knight said, “We received a letter of support from George R. Boggs, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). And all nine members of our Washington State legislative delegation signed a letter of support – that’s unprecedented.”
The sites selected by the Commission on Presidential Debates to host three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate in 2008 are: University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS; Washington University in St. Louis, MO; Belmont University, Nashville, TN; and Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY. The two back-up sites are Centre College in Danville, KY and Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC.
Mark Kirchmeier, Project Director for the Presidential Debate bid, expressed disappointment after hearing the news. Kirchmeier said, “The Pacific Northwest is the sole American region never to have hosted a debate. Ours was the only application in recent years, and perhaps the only one in debate commission history, from a metropolitan region representing two states.”
Kirchmeier praised Clark College for its efforts in securing a debate and looks forward to continuing the partnership between the college and MERC. “Based on feedback from the CPD staff, we believe we’re on the right path. We’re proud of our efforts, and we learned many things during this process that will help us for the future.”
According to Knight and Kirchmeier, the group will continue to focus on the Oregon Convention Center as the host site for the debate, with Clark College providing the focal point for a rich “Debate Month” of national-level speakers, symposia and Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) “Debate Watch” events for students from throughout the metropolitan Vancouver-Portland area.
Knight said, “The student leadership of Clark College is energized about the many possibilities that a presidential debate would bring. They -- and the college -- are committed to striving to make this happen – for Clark students and for other students throughout our region.” Knight added, “Like our partners, we are disappointed that we won’t be hosting a presidential debate in 2008 – but we have learned a lot during the process and are proud of our efforts – and we are committed to continuing our quest to bring a presidential debate to Clark College and our region. On to 2011!”
See what regional and national media outlets are saying about the Presidential Debate bid:
- Presidential Debates Skip Vancouver-Portland -- The Columbian -- November 19, 2007
- Portland Still in Running for Debate -- Portland Tribune -- November 9, 2007 [Story correction: The debate would take place at the Oregon Convention Center with the media check-in area at Memorial Coliseum]
- Debate Would Be Great Opportunity -- Portland Tribune -- October 5, 2007
- Community College Aims to be First to Sponsor Presidential Debate -- Diverse: Issues in Higher Education -- September 27, 2007
- A Place in History -- The Columbian -- September 26, 2007
- Clark College's Quest for an Historic First -- The Daily Insider -- September 20, 2007
- Cheers for Clark's Presidential Debate Bid -- The Columbian -- June 30, 2007
- Portland-Vancouver Move Step Closer to 2008 Presidential Debate -- The Daily Insider -- June 26, 2007
- City Longs for Debate of Its Own -- Portland Tribune -- June 26, 2007