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W.Va. entities apply to host presidential debate

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Bringing a national presidential or vice presidential debate to Charleston isn’t a pipe dream, according to the chairman of the state commission that submitted its application to host a debate in the fall of 2016.

In fact, as head of the nonprofit West Virginia Commission on Presidential Debates, Mike Stuart said Wednesday, “My gut tells me we’ve got a real good chance.”

Stuart, an attorney with Steptoe and Johnson and a former state Republican Party chairman, said he believes people who are skeptical that Charleston could host a debate are selling the city and the state short.

“First of all, the Clay Center is a world-class facility. You won’t find better anywhere in the world,” Stuart said of the proposed site of the debate.

“At the end of the day, it’s a television production,” he said, saying the state-of-the-art facilities at the Clay Center should boost Charleston’s chances to host a debate.

A collaborative effort by state and city officials, and host institutions West Virginia University and West Virginia State University, the commission announced Wednesday it has submitted its application to the national Commission on Presidential Debates, which will announce the four sites for the 2016 general election debates later this year.

While the debates have specific logistical requirements, including a debate hall that measures at least 17,000 square feet, as well as workspace and lodging for approximately 3,000 reporters, Stuart said that hasn’t precluded universities in small towns and rural locations from participating…

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