Update 2:55 p.m.: Harry S. Truman once quipped, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." But right now, the adage "a watched pot never boils" is more appropriate.
It was anticipated that there might be some action over at Belmont today, either in the form of the national media descending or movement through the campus by a few partisan surrogate speakers. The only thing that materialized was a guy in a pig outfit on Belmont Boulevard protesting on behalf of PETA.
Bredesen's civility in politics seminar went off without a hitch, except for the fact that we misunderstood who was speaking. Former CNN anchor Bernard Shaw moderated as anticipated, but the panelists were Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Colorado Congresswoman Pat Schroeder, managing editor of Washington, D.C. political newspaper Politico Bill Nichols, and NBC News senior vice president Mark Whitaker.
Prior to the event, Bredesen did speak to media about what he hoped to accomplish by hosting the panel. He said, "I hope it helps us sort through what is gray and what is not – what's different today than how things used to get done and how to we get back."
Tomorrow should definitely bring more action as the candidates fly into town. Remember, if you can avoid the area around Belmont University tomorrow, your drive will be much smoother.
While the public and the press will not be allowed in the room for the town hall debate, be sure to catch the action at home or at one of the many debate watch parties being held around town. Among the watch parties will be events hosted by the Nashville Bar Association at the Belcourt Theatre, by the AARP at Centennial Park, and by City Paper contributor Steve Gill, whose "non-partisan" event will take place at the Union Station Hotel.
Posted 11:59 a.m.: The tables and chairs have been set up at Belmont University as we are at less than 36 hours away from the 2008 Presidential Town Hall Debate.
This morning, Belmont University President Dr. Bob Fisher, Gov. Phil Bredesen and Mayor Karl Dean officially welcomed the media to town in a specially constructed media tent the size of a football field.
Fisher, Bredesen and Dean all said that they are excited to have the spotlight on the city and it was a great opportunity to showcase all that is Music City. Dean also spoke of what a great week it's been for Nashville and reminded people of ESPN's College GameDay coverage and Vanderbilt's win over Auburn, its first since 1955. According to Dean, that victory occurred on the day he was born.
While no speaker took questions from the podium, each made a few comments to the media after the official welcoming. Perhaps the most interesting remarks came from Bredesen, who said Sarah Palin's recent comments have been "over the top" and that "both candidates have taken the campaign deep in a gray area."
In a little over an hour, Bredesen, former Tennessee Senator Howard Baker and former CNN anchor Bernard Shaw will be hosting a forum on civility in political discourse, where he will likely expand on those thoughts.
Much of the national media has yet to arrive on site. According to Belmont, more than 3,000 journalists are in town for the debate. NashvillePost.com, The City Paper and Post Politics will have continuing coverage of the debate and activities leading up to it.