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Vanderbilt and Metro to vie for presidential debates

Apr. 24, 2003, 3:00 PM

NASHVILLE, Tenn.–Vanderbilt University and the Mayor’s Office have submitted a proposal to host one of the presidential debates in 2004 in Nashville.

The proposal was one of 14 announced today by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a bipartisan organization based in Washington that has sponsored and produced the candidate debates since 1988.

The Vanderbilt-Metro proposal calls for the actual debate to be held downtown in the historic Ryman Auditorium, with additional events and activities to be held on the Vanderbilt campus and in other locations in Nashville.

“The presidential debate is a lesson in democracy and there is no more appropriate location than the ‘Athens of the South,’” said Vanderbilt Chancellor Gordon Gee. “Together, Vanderbilt and Nashville can provide a unique stage for our most important national decision.”

"There is no more appropriate site than the Ryman, the stage for historic events for more than a century by figures including Theodore Roosevelt and Booker T. Washington, Eleanor Roosevelt and Marian Anderson, the Fisk Jubilee Singers and, of course, the Grand Ole Opry," Mayor Bill Purcell said. "Nashville joins Vanderbilt in offering a historic setting for a historic event."

Gee and Purcell both acknowledged the strong support of Gaylord Entertainment, which owns the Ryman Auditorium and has agreed to make the facility available for the program.

The Commission on Presidential Debates will conduct site surveys during the next several months and plans to announce the final sites in November 2003.

Media contact: Elizabeth Latt, 615-322-NEWS,