All systems are go! All candidates confirmed for 2008 Presidential Debate

Friday, April 13, 2007


Orangeburg, SC – With less than two weeks before South Carolina makes history with the first presidential debate for either party in the 2008 cycle, officials from the South Carolina Democratic Party and South Carolina State University announced today that all systems are ready and on track for a both a successful and a historic Path to the Presidency Debate on SC State’s campus on Thursday, April 26, 2007.

"I am pleased to see the tremendous work South Carolina State and the South Carolina Democratic Party have put into to making the first debate of the '08 presidential campaign a huge success," said Congressman James Clyburn. "Due to their amazing efforts and the community involvement, I believe this debate is going to set a high standard for future debates to meet."

All eight Democratic presidential candidates have confirmed to attend the debate, which will be held on Thursday, April 26, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the historic Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium, located on the campus of SC State. The debate will be live on MSNBC News,, and South Carolina’s NBC affiliates, in addition to South Carolina Educational Television (SCETV). The debate kicks off the South Carolina Democratic Party’s historic Path to the Presidency weekend, which also includes the State Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, Congressman Clyburn’s World-Famous Fish Fry, and the State Democratic Party Convention on Saturday, April 28.

Under the leadership of State Democratic Party Chair Joe Erwin and SC State President Andrew Hugine, a team of key University staff and State Party activists and officials have been working for more than two months with officials from NBC News to prepare for the debate.

“I am proud to report today that all systems are go for our historic debate,” said State Party Chairman Joe Erwin. “When we first announced our intentions to come to SC State, I was very excited to be a part of the history and tradition of this great university, the alma mater of my good friend Congressman Clyburn. Now that our team has worked with the SC State family, we truly understand where their great reputation comes from. We could not have asked for better hosts than President Hugine and his team of top-notch professionals at State. These folks just get it done – no matter what the request. If they don’t have the resources, they find someone to sponsor it or someone to lend us some help; if it wasn’t something in their current schedule, they change it.”

With the combined efforts of the South Carolina Democratic Party and SC State debate team, work is well underway to transform the campus into a 21st century debate headquarters. Workspace for NBC News, the campaigns and the media is being converted and a debate office is open. In addition, the SC State Foundation and the Democratic Party have secured sponsors to help bring critical technology and infrastructure to the campus and provide more opportunities for students and the community to watch the debate.

One of those important sponsors was announced this morning at a press briefing on SC State’s campus. The County of Orangeburg and the Economic Development Authority will host a special community viewing celebration for more than 4,000 people in the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center on the night of the debate from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The viewing party/after party will feature food and entertainment, as well as the debate live on a big screen, and will be open to students and community members. Candidates will stop by after the debate and visit. Tickets are free, but will be required for admittance, and details about ticket distribution will be available next week

“The eyes of the world will be on our campus at the end of April, and SC State will make South Carolina proud,” said SC State President Dr. Andrew Hugine. “We know that putting on a successful debate in April isn’t just a one-day phenomenon. The experience of putting on this debate will go a long way toward opening the doors of opportunity for the campus, the community, and the State of South Carolina. We are committed to transforming the energy and excitement of this one event into a lasting legacy, and we thank the people of Orangeburg, the leaders of this county, and the city for their continuing support and encouragement.”


Between NBC News, MSNBC,, Hardball with Chris Matthews, the South Carolina NBC affiliates and South Carolina Educational Television, millions of Americans and South Carolina voters will be able to watch the first debate of the presidential cycle.

According to Chamber of Commerce estimates, just having the debate in Orangeburg, South Carolina on the SC State Campus will generate $30 million worth of economic impact for the State of South Carolina.

More than 300 members of the media from around the world – including Japan, Spain and the United Kingdom – are expected to attend the debate and the Path to the Presidency Weekend.

The State Party and the SC State Foundation have secured more than $200,000 worth of sponsorships to help cover the cost of the debate. A complete list of sponsors will be released next week.

The official South Carolina Democratic Party Debate Office is now open on the SC State Campus in Earle Hall, which is right off Naylor Street on the SC State Campus. The office is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the phone number is 1-803-536-7220.

All 800 tickets for the MLK Auditorium have been allocated to SC State students, alumni and supporters and the eight presidential campaigns, as well as a limited number of South Carolina Democratic elected officials and Party leaders.

Tickets for the public are still available for the Community Celebration Viewing and After Party – co-hosted by Orangeburg County and the Orangeburg Economic Development Agency. The Party will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday night, April 26, in the S-H-M Memorial Center. Food and entertainment will be provided and candidates are expected to attend immediately following the debate. More information about how to pick up a ticket will be released early next week.


For questions about the South Carolina Democratic Primary Debate and the Path to the Presidency weekend, please email

For more information, or to set up an interview with Congressman Clyburn, please contact Hope Derrick at To set up an interview with SC State President Andrew Hugine, please contact Erica Prioleau at 803 378-1407 - To set up an interview with State Party Chairman Joe Erwin, please contact Patrick Norton at 803-530-9323 -