Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sister Newspapers' News

October 3, 2012

Tiny college prepares for $3.3M vice presidential debate

CNHI News Service

DANVILLE, Ky. - Small Centre College is busily preparing for its big media day Oct. 11 when the vice presidential candidates hold their only debate on this central Kentucky campus.

Arrangements are being made to accommodate 16,000 media representatives and visitors, many of whom will also be present for a campus festival. Space has been set aside for 70 satellite TV broadcast trucks and more than 500 news reporter work stations.

Only 1,340 students attend the liberal arts college, and you might deduce that a national event would overwhelm both the college and the town.

Not so. They've staged this particular event before -- in 2000 when vice presidential nominees Joseph Liberman, then a Democrat, debated Republican Dick Chaney on campus.

There was no incumbent then. This time Democatic Vice President Joe Biden will go face-to-face with Republican challenger Paul Ryan. ABC's Martha Raddatz will moderate the 1 1/2 hour debate that starts at 9 p.m. eastern time.

The ferocity of the campaign is expected to swell the crowd.

College officials estimated the cost of staging the debate at $3.3 million, with the money coming from fees to the campaigns and the news organizations for providing facilities. The Commission on Presidential Debates will also help cover the cost.

For example, television networks will be charged $1,900 for trailer parking space. The campaigns will pay $225 for each desk. Chairs are $12 apiece with padding, $10 without.

Businesses in this town of 16,000 hope to benefit from the debate as well. Karamel Kreations Gourmet Caramel and Gifts is selling tins of "GOP Cookies" with an elephant on the container and "Democrat Snacks" with a donkey. Flags, bunting and debate-related merchandise can be found in several stores.

"It'll be fun," said Kelly Hignite of Maple Tree Gallery in downtown Danville. "I'll have to leave for work a little earlier but I'm still excited."

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Details for this story were provided by the Ashland, Ky., Independent.

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