Text of Commission on Presidential Debates Sept. 15, 2004 letter to the Campaigns' Lead Debate Negotiators (this followed on another letter the CPD had sent a week earlier):

September 15, 2004

James A. Baker, III
Baker Botts L.L.P.
1299 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20004
Vernon E. Jordan
Lazard Freres L.L.C.
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112
Dear Jim and Vernon:

In light of the Commission on Presidential Debates’ (CPD) scheduled debates, which start on September 30 at the University of Miami, the final construction and production details must be addressed immediately. It is important that we meet with you no later than Monday, September 20, to finalize debate plans. We are also available to meet anytime this week.

As you know, the CPD’s sites and dates were announced in November, 2003. Since that time, the University of Miami, Case Western Reserve University, Washington University in St. Louis, and Arizona State University have spent substantial resources on preparation. While more than ten months of preparation have gone into the four debate halls, the universities, television networks, security officials and the CPD need at least ten days for final configuration and testing of the production elements. The sites’ media filing centers, where 2,500 journalists will work, also require extensive installation of communication equipment. Without this preparation and rehearsal time, the CPD cannot guarantee that the American public will see and hear debates of the quality they expect.

The universities’ students have signed up to volunteer in unprecedented numbers. The three television networks with pool responsibility for the four debates – Fox (Miami), NBC (St. Louis), and ABC (Cleveland and Phoenix) – have spent months working on production details with the CPD and are ready to go. The requests for media workspace, both network and local stations, are greater than ever.

The CPD’s coordination with federal law enforcement for the 2004 debates – the first since September 11, 2001 – has been underway since December, 2002. The Gallup Organization is ready to recruit undecided voters in the St. Louis, MO metropolitan area for the town meeting debate, a format that has proved most popular with the American public. The four universities, their surrounding communities, and their state governments have incurred significant costs in preparing for the four debates. They cannot wait any longer for confirmation that these historic events will go forward as planned. Please contact us upon your receipt of this letter to schedule a planning meeting.


Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr. Paul G. Kirk, Jr.

cc: Mary Beth Cahill
Ken Mehlman, Marc Racicot, Karl Rove