Ohio college to host first 2016 presidential debate

FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2008, file photo, Republican Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin delivers a speech as Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., introduces her as his vice presidential running mate at Wright State University's Ervin J. Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio. On Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced four universities that will host three presidential debates and a vice presidential debate for the 2016 general election campaign, including the first presidential debate scheduled at Wright State University on Sept. 26, 2016. The other universities are Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Longwood University in Virginia. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2008, file photo, Republican Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin delivers a speech as Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., introduces her as his vice presidential running mate at Wright State University's Ervin J. Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio. On Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced four universities that will host three presidential debates and a vice presidential debate for the 2016 general election campaign, including the first presidential debate scheduled at Wright State University on Sept. 26, 2016. The other universities are Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Longwood University in Virginia. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) – The 2016 general election presidential debates will take off at Ohio’s Wright State University.

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Wednesday the sites for the three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate. The commission chose four sites from among 16 schools and cities that asked to be hosts

“The fact that Wright State was selected is very gratifying and humbling,” Wright State President David Hopkins said in a statement. “This is a huge win for all of us.”

The school in Dayton will host the Sept. 26 debate next year – the first in the 2016 series and the first presidential debate for the school.

However, Wright State has been in the national political spotlight previously. Republican presidential candidate John McCain introduced Sarah Palin as his running mate at the school’s Nutter Center, where the debate will be held next year. Current President Barack Obama also spoke there in February 2008, when he was still seeking the Democratic nomination.

Ohio has been a crucial swing state in recent presidential elections, drawing scores of campaign visits by the contenders every four years. The GOP held its first primary debate this year in Cleveland and will have its national convention there next July. No candidate has won the White House without Ohio since 1960, and no Republican has been elected president without carrying Ohio.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, noting the school was named for Dayton’s aviation-pioneering Wright Brothers, said in a statement that “it is only fitting the first presidential debate will take place at such a symbolic location.”

Like Turner, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, had written the commission in support of Wright State as host, saying: “When it comes to presidential elections, all eyes turn to Ohio.”

The school, now with an enrollment of some 18,000 students, became a full Ohio public university in 1967.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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