Nashville, Cleveland and Miami are getting all sorts of attention this year as the host cities of the three presidential debates. Hartford was one of the potential sites for this year’s face-offs, but was eliminated from contention about a year ago. Connecticut’s capital city last hosted a debate in 1996, and do I remember that assignment well. It was so exciting.
Hosting the presidential debate put Hartford on an international stage. The event featured President Bill Clinton and his challenger, Senator Bob Dole. Clinton was ahead in the polls, and Dole needed a strong debate performance to have any hopes off turning the tide. Media flew into Hartford from all over, filling up hotels, restaurants and stores. The debate was held at the Bushnell, but other venues like the Hartford Civic Center and Union Station were put into use to house journalists, pundits and supporters. The economic impact was huge and gave us a chance to shine and show the world who we were.
It’s not too early to start thinking about 2024, and whether another pitch should be made to bring a debate to Hartford. I vote for yes, let’s go for it!
WATCH the 1996 Hartford presidential debate right here: https://www.c-span.org/video/?74271-1/presidential-candidates-debate