The candidates for vice president will take center stage when they debate at Centre College next month, but the facility will have a place for others want to champion their causes during the event. Clarence Wyatt, who is co-chairman of the debate steering committee, told the Advocate-Messenger that others who want to make public speeches on Oct. 11 can sign up to take the stage at nearby Speakers Park.
The park will open at noon on the day of the debate and will include a stage, a public address system and tables for literature.
Wyatt said several groups have already signed up for 15 minutes of stage time including international anti-poverty organization ONE, which was co-founded by singer Bono and the local Boyle County Public Library.
"As an institution of higher learning, we thought it was important to create a space where the thoughtful and civil exchange of ideas could take place," Wyatt said. "It gives organizations or those with a cause a place to engage the public and distribute their literature and the public a place to hear about a wide range of issues of interest."
Kentuckians for the Commonwealth member Daniel Morgan of Danville says that group wants to get a speaking time for several issues including fair taxation, mountaintop removal coal mining, alternative energy sources and restoring voting rights for felons. He said the group wanted to educate a wider audience about its views.
"With the debate being in Danville, we wanted to make sure Kentuckians have a voice and issues facing Kentucky are heard with this rare national platform," Morgan said.
Morgan said he remembers a similar scene during the vice presidential debate the school hosted in 2000.
"It was a unique chance to see national politics played out in my hometown," he said.
Any demonstrations will likely be held elsewhere, Wyatt said.
"The speakers can reach an audience much more effectively than they would at an event out in town or elsewhere," he said. "It also provides a venue that suits the needs and desires of those groups, in a way that fits into the overall security plan."