Ole Miss makes history by hosting debate

OXFORD, MS (WMC-TV) - The University of Mississippi will make history later this month when it hosts the first presidential debate of 2008.

With the debate just around the corner, many are asking how the university landed the debate, which will focus on foreign policy.

Tuesday, Dr. Andy Mullins said he and Chancellor Robert Khayat came up with the idea several years ago, but decided to wait until there was no incumbent on the ballot.

"I suspect it had a lot to do with the Ford Center, and the fact that the commission liked the Ford Center as a venue. Also has to do with the beauty of the campus and the history of Ole Miss," Mullins said.

"We asked Sen. Lott and Governor Haley Barbour to call one person that each of them knew.  Other than that we were selected on the strength of the proposal and strength of the community," Khayat added.

Each applicant had to submit a written proposal and $1.35 million dollars up front. The Commission on Presidential Debates in Washington then decided who the dates and locations of the debates.

In all, 19 colleges and organizations applied to host a 2008 debate, but only four were chosen.

With some 3,000 members of the media expected to be on campus for the debate, students and faculty are certain the event will bring some much needed attention to Ole Miss.

Click here to e-mail Jamel Major.