Washington State U. not bitter over missing debate

| Contributing Reporter

When Washington University received the offer to host the vice presidential debate in November 2007, it was the second choice for an event that pundits never predicted would amass the media attention it did.

The first choice of the Commission for Presidential Debates (CPD) was Washington State University’s campus in Spokane (WSU), a school making its first bid to host a presidential debate. Though it received an offer to host the vice presidential debate, WSU declined because administrators worried about finding enough corporate sponsors for the event.

“It seemed like it was a stretch for a presidential debate. It seemed like with a vice presidential debate it would be harder,” said James Tinney, WSU’s director of media relations.

At the time, it did not appear as though the vice presidential debate would get as much attention as it has, especially since previous vice presidential debates traditionally drew viewers.

“We had to make a decision based on the information we had at the time,” Tinney said. “Now at that point everybody thought [the presidential candidates] would be Clinton and Giuliani.”

WSU’s application for hosting the debates began with a new faculty member who had previously worked at Michigan State University, and had enjoyed hosting the event before. Like Washington University, WSU went through the CPD’s application process for months.

“[We] had good cooperation with the community,” Tinney said. “It was a useful exercise for us, but [in the end] it didn’t work out.”

Although the debate wouldn’t have been right on campus, there was still some political interest amongst the students who were already tuned into politics, according to Tinney.

This debate would have been especially important to WSU students, because Palin went to the University of Idaho, located less than 10 miles away from the WSU campus.

“I think there’s a local tie in there,” Tinney said.

Currently, the political makeup of the student body seemed unaffected by this connection.
The campus is located in eastern Washington, a very conservative part of the state. Because college campuses often incline toward the left side of the political spectrum, however, Tinney felt that the students’ political views were split fairly evenly.

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