Senate Presidential Candidates Join Landrieu in Call for New Orleans Debate
Advocate location in letter to Presidential Debate Co-Chairmen.
WASHINGTON - United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., and each of the six Senators currently running for President today sent a letter to Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr. and Paul Kirk, Jr., Co-Chairmen of the Commission on Presidential Debates, supporting a proposal to host a 2008 Presidential Debate in New Orleans. The recovery of the region in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita will continue well into the next President's administration, the Senators wrote, making the area an ideal location for a discussion of how candidates would address recovery challenges.
The endorsement letter was signed by Senators Landrieu, Joseph R. Biden, Jr., D-Del., Chris Dodd, D-Conn., John McCain, R-Ariz., Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and Barack Obama, D-Ill.
"Now 18 months after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the devastating levee breaks that followed, rebuilding efforts continue across the Gulf Coast," the senators wrote. "But with thousands of residents still unable to return home, businesses still unable to reopen, and schools in need of reconstruction, there is a great deal of work left to be done as our nation recovers from the first and third worst hurricane disasters in our history.
"There is no doubt that the next President of the United States will bear a significant responsibility to address the ongoing and momentous challenges of this recovery. This duty is highlighted by the region's vital role in our nation's economy and national security and the statement our efforts make about how America protects and cares for its own people in times of crisis.
"As such, we strongly and wholeheartedly endorse the proposal to host one of the 2008 Presidential Debates in the City of New Orleans. This would, in fact, be the Commission's first Presidential Debate held in a Gulf Coast community."
An application to hold the debate in New Orleans was filed with the Commission this week by Dillard, Loyola, Tulane and Xavier universities and the nonprofit organization Women of the Storm. The applicants have indicated that New Orleans fulfills all of the requirements for hosting a debate in the city. The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center would meet or exceed the Commission's facility requirements, and the city's transportation and hospitality services and facilities are more than capable of supporting the event. New Orleans hotels have returned to more than 90 percent of their pre-Katrina capacity and the city recently hosted a major convention of more than 30,000 attendees.
"The city is clearly the most appropriate venue for a discussion of how each candidate would address the ongoing hurricane recovery needs as President," Sen. Landrieu and the candidates wrote. "With new school and health care systems being rebuilt virtually from scratch, small businesses struggling to reopen, a devastated law enforcement community facing a growing crime epidemic, and families forced into tough choices on housing and other life-or-death questions, New Orleans also provides a unique forum for a discussion of broader issues in the campaign."
The senators also note that, beyond discussing issues of recovery, "by hosting the debate there, the Commission can itself contribute to the recovery and renewal of this vibrant region."
The full text of the letter is available here. Sen. Landrieu sent similar letters to several national television networks encouraging them to host Presidential primary debates in the region.