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Road to the White House: Dr. Fisher reflects on 2008 debate, looks forward to 2020 at convocation ev

Curtains peeled back in the Vince Gill Room, revealing a banner hanging above Dr. Robert Fisher’s head,“Once again, the road to the White House runs through Belmont University.” The Belmont Vision plans to help guide students along that road as we look at every aspect of the debate, from the cost to the planning to the politics. Join us on our “Road to the White House.”

Less than a year out from hosting the third presidential debate, the best indication of Belmont’s future is to look at the school’s past.

In preparation for the 2020 presidential debate, University President Dr. Bob Fisher reflected on Wednesday morning about the last time Belmont hosted two presidential candidates, Secret Service agents and over 3,000 journalists — the 2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate.

“We want to be the place where people can come together, invite important issues about the future of our country and our world and do it in a setting where it’s a neutral site. And that’s what we’re going to strive to do,” said Fisher.

With video and photographs from 2008, Fisher painted a picture of what the campus looked like over 10 years ago — and what it might look like in less than a year.

In 2008, the university put on over 100 debate related programs, pitched a massive media tent, hosted a block party on Belmont Boulevard and more.

With all of these upcoming changes expected to arrive on campus, Fisher said he wanted to educate students as to how they can be involved and get their voices heard, emphasizing the importance of registering to vote. Fisher invited Student Government Association President Meghan Hickok to speak about the importance of voter registration.

“Only 60% of eligible voters in the country voted in the 2016 presidential election. That means 40% of American voters were left unheard, which is crazy. So we’re going to change that. And we’re going to do that by registering to vote,” said Hickok.

Additionally, a student interest form was sent Wednesday afternoon from for students wanting to get involved with the event.

“We don’t have details just yet, but we do know there will be many opportunities for students to learn, engage and volunteer around this event,” said the email.

Sam Candler, a Belmont freshman, thinks the best thing about the upcoming debate is the opportunity for students to engage in civil and meaningful conversations, he said.

“I hope that people get to see how to create a conversation without having arguments about politics. So I think that’s one of the big things. I hope that people also pay attention and learn instead of voting on what they think,” said Candler.

More information on the debate can be found at

This article written by Henry Gregson. Contributing reporting by Abigail Bowen. Photos by Colby Crosby.

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