After a year of buildup toward the biggest event in the history of Wright State University, the school on Tuesday announced it was withdrawing as the host for the first presidential debate on Sept. 26. Our reporters have been on this story from the beginning, and were the first to break the news of the school’s decision, which officials say they made because of financial and security reasons.
The quotes below show the arc of the story — from the exhilarating news last September that the university in Fairborn had been selected for what could be the most-watched presidential debate in history, to the more somber announcement Tuesday that the school was withdrawing as host.
April 1, 2015, as WSU is named one of 16 finalists to host one of the debates.
John McCance, Wright State adviser to the president for presidential debate: “I think we have a very competitive package….We at Wright State are very lucky to have received very significant levels of support, starting with our federal and state-elected officials, county officials, and the city of Dayton, Fairborn and Beavercreek. It is indeed a win for the region.”
Sept. 23, 2015, as WSU is named to host the first presidential debate.
Wright State President David Hopkins:“We’re extremely proud. We’re honored we can bring this to Ohio, our region and certainly to Wright State, It’s a big day at Wright State. It’s a big day for our community.”
Oct. 27, 2015
Hopkins: “We want to be one of those institutions they’ll want to come back to.”
Nov. 17, 2015, email from Ron Wine to Hopkins, referring to approaching Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger about supplying state money for the debate.
“Keep in mind that the State has a history of funding special events like our Presidential debate. The request is not out of line and I know they have excess JobsOhio and liquor profits money available. Playing the inside game, I also suggest you let him know the Friends of WSU would like to organize a major fund-raiser for his campaign and House Leadership in Dayton in 2016.”
Jan. 7, 2016, after Rosenberger is showed the email by the newspaper, which obtained it through a public records request from the university.
“‘Playing the inside game’ — I don’t even know what the hell that means. “I just don’t understand why there are memos talking about how to talk to Cliff Rosenberger.”
Jan. 22, 2016, at a Wright State trustee meeting, where it was announced the debate costs could reach $8 million.
Trustee C.D. Moore: “It was $3 to $5 million. Now it’s $8 million. Will it be $10 million at the next meeting?”
Feb. 9, 2016, at a kickoff event for the debate.
Fairborn Mayor Dan Kirkpatrick: “The fact that the future president of the United States is going to be at this debate is just incredible for our region. We’re very proud, we’re very excited and appreciate all of the work Wright State has done to make this possible.”
April 7, 2016
Hopkins: “The eyes of the world will turn to Dayton.”
Hopkins: “It’s overwhelming right now, but I got a good team working on it. And we have lots of partners in the region.”
Hopkins: “Obviously we are hoping to get more support from the state because we have some significant security issues. Our hope is to continue to build the case that the state should support more of what we are doing.”
July 19, 2016
Hopkins: “I think It’s unfortunate we’ve gotten two months away from it and we have to pull the plug on it. I don’t think that makes anyone look good. But if the alternative is we would be left with a sizable financial liability because of this, then I think it’s the smart thing to do.”
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