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October 8, 2012

'Thrill in the 'Ville': VP debate comes to small-town Kentucky

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DANVILLE, Ky. —

The soap poll isn't especially even.

"We’re on our second loaf of Republican soap, but we’ve sold just half a loaf of Democratic soap," said Nelson.

Indeed, it seems to mirror Kentucky's red-state politics. Obama had a poor showing here in the 2008 primary and general elections, and he's expected to lose to Romney by a large margin come November.

But Nelson's straw poll may soon be skewed by out-of-towers.

Nelson said she's already been visited by a number of visitors lately, including a young couple from London, England, who arrived for this weekend's 150th commemoration of the Civil War Battle fought in nearby Perryville. A reenactment there was expected to draw 2,500 participants and 25,000 spectators.

She's expecting a lot more people Monday.

Danville's visitors will include Secret Service agents who've rented an entire section of a local hotel, and the broadcast networks, expected in town Sunday and Monday.

Centre College expects 3,200 credentialed media, including 600 from 39 foreign countries.

Two national media outlets are negotiating to rent the Bluegrass Pizza and Pub downtown - one for a debate forum, the other to entertain VIP guests - though owner Colin Masters was reluctant to give specifics until details are final.

Come Thursday evening nearly all of these visitors will converge on tiny but prestigious Centre College, a highly rated liberal arts college whose alumni include two Supreme Court justices (John Marshall Harlan and Fred M. Vinson); two vice presidents (John C. Breckenridge and Adlai Stevenson); and a passel of congressmen, senators and governors.

The college, just three blocks from downtown, hosted the 2000 vice presidential debate between Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman. The Commission on Presidential Debates was so impressed, it chose Center, and Danville, again this year.

"It's a bigger show this time," said Dr. Clarence Wyatt, professor of history, who co-chaired the 2000 debate and has the same role this year. "It's more complex in every way. It's post 9/11, and there's an incumbent this time."

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