Now that Congress is on spring break, and the pace of daily events is going to slow to a crawl, I have a chance to write about some stories that have not gotten much attention. In a letter dated March 22, 2007 U.S. Senator Mary Landreiu proposed to the Commission on Presidential Debates, that New Orleans should be selected as the city to host the first presidential debate of the 2008 general election campaign. Landrieu’s proposal was endorsed by presidential candidates Sen. Joe Biden, Jr., (D-DE)., Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL).

“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 [from hurricanes Katrina and Rita]. 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,” the senators wrote.

The senators went on give their reasons why they think New Orleans would be a good choice. “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.” Perhaps the most important reason of all they saved for last, “by hosting the debate there, the Commission can itself contribute to the recovery and renewal of this vibrant region.”

The recovery of the Gulf Coast region has become a forgotten story in the media. Having the city such a large national event as presidential debate, will force the media to return to New Orleans and focus attention on how the recovery of the entire region is progressing. I have not even mentioned the economic impact that hosting a presidential debate would have on the city. Also, New Orleans would provide a different type of backdrop and venue. This alone might breathe some life back into the stale formats of the debates. Most importantly, this is a chance to do something for a region that is still struggling to get back in its feet. It doesn’t require political debate or the approval of elected leaders. It will happen if a few people decide to do the right thing, and trust me; this is the right thing to do.

The PDF format full text of the letter is available here.

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse blog radio

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