Brown added, "I want to especially commend the schoolchildren of Danville and Boyle County for the marvelous materials they submitted in support of Centre's bid to be a debate host."
"Since there was no debate site in the West in 2000, we knew that Arizona State would be able to make a strong case for a western site in 2004," said Richard Trollinger, Centre vice president for college relations. "But we very much enjoyed being in the hunt this time and feel that we've added significantly to our store of knowledge about the process during the last year."
Danville Mayor John W.D. Bowling said he was "disappointed, to say the least" about the commission's decision, but said he "knows Centre gave it 110 percent, as did the local schools and other groups and individuals in the community involved in the process of attracting the debate and hosting it."
While Centre and the community worked hard to get the chance to repeat as a general election debate site and won plaudits from the commission for the job that was done for the 2000 vice-presidential debate, Bowling said that "simply for town our size, it was a feeling I had that the commission probably favored larger cities hosting their presidential debates."
The mayor said he doubted that the community lost points in the area of security because of the small size of the city's police force. He underscored the fact that security would have been, like it was in 2000, a "joint effort" of the city, county and state law enforcement agencies working with the Secret Service and other federal security and law enforcement agencies.
The commission understandably had to put security at or near the top of its list of concerns in evaluating potential debate site in post-September 11 America, but it "would have not been a concern here," said Bowling. "Everything is relative. We are a small community, but we also have less space to make secure. We also have a very capable and well-trained police department and sheriff's department and also an outstanding state police force.
"Security was not a problem or concern (regarding Centre's application to be a debate site), on our part or, as far as I know, theirs (commission and federal security government agencies)," he said, adding that he and Danville Police Chief Jeff Peek had had "several conversations" with "folks involved in overseeing security" for the debate and Peek had been developing a plan.
"If they'd come here, they would have had absolutely no safety or security concerns," Bowling said.
Meanwhile, the mayor said he is confident that if Centre applies to be a debate site in 2008, it would at least be a finalist again.
"We always have hope, and life is all about hope. But I think Centre will have more than hope for 2008," he said. "The college and community have a track record, from 2000, in showing we can be an outstanding debate host."
Centre planning activities to focus attention on the debates
Though Centre will not be a 2004 debate site, the college is tentatively planning several activities to focus attention on the debates and to enhance the political knowledge and involvement of students, other members of the Centre community and members of the general public. These may include:
* All members of Centre's fall 2004 freshman class will read and discuss a book that will provide insight into the American political process.