Belmont University is a ‘yes’ to host 2020 presidential debate

Pictured (l to r): Student Government Association President Meghan Hickok, Congressman Jim Cooper, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, University President Dr. Bob Fisher, University Chairman Marty Dickens and Nashville Mayor John Cooper. (photo courtesy of Belmont University)

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) has announced that Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. (home of the 2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate) will again host a presidential debate on Thurs., Oct. 22, 2020. This will be the third and final presidential debate of the 2020 campaign season, occurring less than two weeks before Americans go to the polls to vote.

Following an intensive application and site survey process, Belmont was selected as one of four debate sites (three presidential and one vice presidential) nationwide, making the university and Middle Tennessee vital locations in an election that will determine the nation’s direction.

Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said: “When opportunity comes knocking, Belmont University eagerly opens the door. This campus is known for swinging at every pitch and embracing big occasions, consistently pursuing ways to defy the status quo in higher education and provide students (and the community at large) with phenomenal learning experiences. Hosting the 2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate put Belmont University at the center of one of the most historic presidential elections in American history. To be selected again is a great honor, and I’m confident that together we will once again exceed expectations in producing this internationally important event.”

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said: “It is terrific news that Belmont University has been chosen to host a presidential debate in 2020. Belmont has been a proven leader in our state and in our nation, and it is an honor to have another chance to showcase this outstanding university and our state to the world next fall.”

Mayor of Nashville and Davidson County John Cooper said: “I congratulate Belmont University on their successful bid to host a 2020 Presidential debate. This is an exciting moment for Belmont and for Nashville. In hosting mayoral debates earlier this year, Belmont played a vital role in shaping the conversation around moving our city forward. We look forward to hosting this conversation on the national stage.”

The 2020 Presidential Debate at Belmont University will be held in the Curb Event Center, home of the NCAA Division-I Belmont Bruins basketball and volleyball teams. The debate is expected to attract huge numbers of national and international media to Nashville, along with the candidates’ campaigns and supporters, and will be viewed by millions worldwide.

According to Nielsen Media Ratings, more than 63.2 million homes nationwide tuned in to view the Town Hall Presidential Debate held on Oct. 7, 2008, the largest television audience of the three presidential debates held that fall. USA Today political writer Chuck Raasch noted at the time, “Belmont University in Nashville proved that small places with big ambitions could be world-class stages.”

In addition to hosting the Town Hall Presidential Debate, Belmont planned and offered a slate of more than 100 debate-related programs during the 2008-09 academic year, including appearances by award-winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and New York Times bestselling author and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough. Numerous speaker series were scheduled along with visual and performing arts events and special voter engagement activities, all centered on the theme ‘The Art of Being Free.’

Belmont Provost Dr. Thomas Burns anticipates hosting a 2020 debate to provide another banner year of educational opportunities for Belmont students and the broader community.

“It’s rare to have such an opportunity to be on the front lines of all of the critical issues facing our nation and the world, and we intend to take full advantage of this debate by promoting exceptional educational experiences to benefit our students and all of Middle Tennessee,” said Burns.

Civic organizations along with state and local government officials have endorsed Belmont’s bid for the presidential debate with Gov. Bill Lee, former Mayor David Briley, Senators Marsha Blackburn and Lamar Alexander, and Congressman Jim Cooper, among others, all contributing letters of support. Newly elected Nashville Mayor John Cooper has also pledged his support.

The past 18 months alone demonstrate Belmont’s unique ability to host major events as the University was home to the international Davis Cup tennis competition, taping in 2018 and 2019 of the nationally broadcast CMA Country Christmas special, a visit from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and the Nashville premiere of new Ken Burns’ documentary, Country Music. Moreover, Belmont has long been known for its commitment to civic discourse and citizen education, as a frequent host of mayoral and gubernatorial debates and forums.

Belmont University also launched its Debate 2020 website at <belmontdebate2020.com> and will be using the #BelmontDebate2020 hashtag throughout the next year in celebration of all of the events that will surround this historic season.

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