The news came yesterday that Richmond was not selected as one of the sites for a Presidential / Vice Presidential Debate in Fall 2008. It's certainly too bad given the potential it had for bringing attention to Richmond, but as EDC President Jim Dinkle has been saying, just the unity and positive image we presented in bidding for the debate was itself a great achievement, and one we can build on in the future.
Of course, we still CAN have a Presidential / Vice Presidential Debate here in the Fall of 2008, and one that gets national media attention. The Commission on Presidential Debates that turned us down is a private corporation that represents the Democratic and Republican parties, and that works to explicitly exclude other political parties from the debate process. While the practice of third-party exclusion is largely accepted in mainstream politics, it is certainly counter to the very notion of a true democratic process, as I discussed in an RNR podcast episode about Richmond's bid.
So, now that we've shown we have the resources and interest in hosting a presidential debate, we can make an additional contribution to the political process by joining the Open Debates movement and petitioning the Citizen's Debate Commission to host a debate in Richmond. Not only will we get national media attention and Presidential Candidates taking the stage at Civic Hall, we'll also be helping to work for an important change in the election process - a debate that actually serves the interests of the American people first.
(Full disclosure: I participated in the Debate Bid Steering Committee as an adviser on matters related to telecommunications infrastructure and marketing.)