Published February 7, 2008
With the presidential contests in each party providing one of the most drawn-out primaries in recent history, Ohio becomes something it hadn't expected to become with more than half the states finished in the pre-run to the White House:
WE ARE RELEVANT.
So the country's eyes are turning to the next states that could be the state to push a candidate over the top. We are one of those states with our March 4 primary.
So could we be one of the cities that become major hoopla for 24 hours by hosting a presidential debate?
What better setting: Economic and social challenges as deep as anywhere in America; new efforts that have drawn national acclaim; new leaders offering new hope.
In short: Yes, we could host the debates.
In reality: Not a chance.
CNN pretty much owns the debates. They have two tentatively scheduled for Ohio on Feb. 27 and 28.
CNN sets the dates, and then pretty much turns everything else over to the state's Dems and Republicans to sort out. According to the state's top Dem, Chris Redfern, CNN's needs list for any community hosting a debate starts with the following:
1,000 hotel rooms, 3,000-seat facility available for two nights, wireless media faciilty for 400 traveling journalists, separate studios for post-debate spinning from either party, and close proximity to a major airport.
This does not include the needs of Ohio officials who would have to host the event. Those costs, Redfern said, won't be covered from some central state account, but from the community that wishes to host the event.
Youngstown is on the list, with Congressman Tim Ryan getting credit for being one of the first callers a few weeks ago.
But so are other cities, namely Cincy, Columbus and Cleveland, with the cash and the infrastructure to meet the needs.
But it's nice to at least be on the list.
There is chatter and interest for us, so maybe we'll get some activity. Stay tuned.