Orangeburg prepares for SC's first presidential debate

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

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ORANGEBURG - Excitement is building for South Carolina's first Democratic presidential debate. South Carolina State University in Orangeburg is hosting the April 26 debate.
Right now, politics is on the minds of many people in the city. But the question remains, is Orangeburg ready to host this big event?    

"Hey my friend, welcome to Eugene's," says the friendly hot dog vendor on Russell Street. "Mustard, ketchup, chili, sauerkraut, crushed red peppers, street cooled onions, name and claim it," he says to his customers.

Name it and claim it - when on Russell Street in Orangeburg. That's where you'll find Eugene's.

"I've been here for 20 years. Right here it's like a mom and pop store," Eugene told News 10.

Eugene knows hot-dogs, and he'll have you know that on this line, no topic is off limits.

"Wouldn't it be nice to have a female for President and African-American for Vice President?" he asks.

Presidential candidates are the buzz here. It's hot dogs and a hot ticket when the first Democratic debate comes to Orangeburg at the end of the month. It'll be held just a few miles away from Eugene's.

"When the candidates come we'll take care of them too. Let them get a good old taste of an old New York-style hot dog- how about that," Eugene said.

"You've tried the rest, now try the best," Eugene said as he handed News 10's Dan Tordjman a hot dog.

Clearly Eugene is ready for the big crowds there, but the rest of the city might not be. They're still working out issues like traffic and security. Then there's SC State, getting ready to host the event.

"The campus is getting a face-lift," said an SC State official. "There are a lot of landscaping projects, and we're renovating MLK Auditorium for the debate. I suspect the week of the debate, you'll see a very different campus."

A campus of less than 5,000 students that's expecting twice as many visitors for the debate. Outside the MLK Auditorium, there's work on a new garden, and inside, all seats have been removed for renovation.

"This is going off the on what the 26th? Not much time, less than three weeks," Eugene said.

The clock is ticking in a town where everyone's got an opinion, and everyone seems hungry to hear more.

Reported by Dan Tordjman, WIS-TV
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