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Saint Mary’s to bid for presidential debate

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Thursday, January 6th, 2011 at 5:40 pm in Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics.

Saint Mary’s College, fresh off its pre-November election U.S. Senate debate between Barbara Boxer and Carla Fiorina, is shooting for the stars: A presidential debate.

My colleague, Jonathan Morales, found an interesting tidbit in a Moraga town report that mentioned the college’s interest in hosting a presidential debate.

Read Morales’ blog entry here. Or here is what he wrote:

Saint Mary’s College is making a run at one of the biggest political stages there is: a presidential debate.

The college is preparing a bid to host one of the four debates to be held during the 2012 presidential election.

The debates are organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates, and you can take a look here at their criteria for hosting one of the events.

A producer with the debates — they are a television event, after all — toured the campus recently and seemed to think Saint Mary’s would be a feasible site, said Michael Beseda, the college’s vice president for communication.

McKeon Pavilion, the school’s main gym, would be the debate hall. The college would likely set up a tent on the adjacent athletic practice field to accommodate media.

Both Beseda and Director of Community and Government Relations Tim Farley said the reaction from local officials to whom they have spoken has been very supportive.

And, according to Farley, Mayor Karen Mendonca plans to mention the college’s bid at the Contra Costa Mayor’s Conference meeting tonight to begin drumming up support in the broader community.

Saint Mary’s hosted a senatorial debate between Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina this fall.

The CDP organizes debates during the general election, three for presidential candidates and one for vice presidential candidates. The billions and billions of other debates we see during the primary season are usually at least partly sponsored by media outlets.

In 2008, the presidential debates were held at the University of Mississippi, Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., and Hofstra University just outside New York City. The vice presidential debate was held at Washington University in St. Louis.

The college must submit its bid by March 31.

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