I received the email blast from WWL-AM late this morning that Women of the Storm announced New Orleans would be holding the first presidential debate this year. Congratulations ladies and God Bless your work and mission. Here are some excerpts from the breaking story courtesy of our friends at the Times Picayune:
Internet giants Google and YouTube announced plans today for a major post-convention presidential forum in New Orleans, a move that could provide a national boost for the city after it was spurned last year by the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Google, the dominant Web search engine, and YouTube, the online video platform, are proposing the forum with the major party presidential candidates be held Sept. 18 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, just after the parties complete their conventions in late August and early September. It would be eight days before the first scheduled presidential commission debate in Oxford, Miss.
The announcement, made today on Google’s Web site, did not reveal whether any of the candidates — presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona, or Democratic candidates Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois or Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York — have agreed to participate.
After the debate commission announced in November its three presidential debate sites — Oxford, Miss.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Hempstead, N.Y., — the two Democratic candidates criticized the exclusion of New Orleans.
Clinton said that the commission “missed a golden opportunity to show New Orleans that the entire country is committed to its recovery.” Obama said that the event would have provided an “economic boom to the city” and remind Americans “about the unmet promise to rebuild and restore the Gulf Coast.”
McCain didn’t comment at the time, but during a visit to New Orleans last week he committed to protecting the city against 100-year storms by 2011 and eventually protecting the region from Category 5 hurricanes.
The New Orleans forum will be hosted by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and the same consortium that filed the unsuccessful application with the debate commission: Women of the Storm, the Greater New Orleans Foundation and Dillard, Loyola, Tulane and Xavier universities.
The forum will use Google technology and the YouTube video platform to drive citizen engagement and create a compelling live broadcast, according to the sponsors……..
Officials from Google and YouTube said that they have helped Americans participate more directly than ever before in the selection process for the Democratic and Republican nominations and hope that will continue by their hosting of a presidential forum.
“Voters deserve the same chance to have their voices heard during the general election, and the forum in New Orleans will provide an important way for citizens to be actively engaged,” Google Senior Vice President David Drummond said.
YouTube took part in a Democratic candidate debate last year with CNN that incorporated interactive questions from viewers.
YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley said that YouTube is “honored to help the New Orleans consortium bring” its video platform to the city for use in a presidential forum………
In rejecting New Orleans as a site for one of the four 2008 debates, commission co-chair Frank Fahrenkopf said the selection was based on the merits of the submissions made by the 16 competing cities. But some backers of a New Orleans debate speculated that the commission might have been nervous that the media would show the nation all the recovery work that still hasn’t been completed on what would be the three-year anniversary since Katrina stuck.
Norman Francis, president of Xavier University, said the excuses offered some New Orleans officials — that the city wasn’t ready to host a major debate despite hosting such major events as the National College football championship and NBA All Star game, didn’t make sense. He said a major presidential forum would be great for the thousands of college students who attend school in the city.
Here is the Youtube Video with the announcement: