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The Skanner News
Published: 15 March 2012

Oregon GOP Chair Allen Alley thanks OPB CEO Steve Bass for his efforts to bring the Republican presidential debate to Oregon, at a "consolation lunch" held on what would have been the debate's studio stage set, Monday at OPB studios in Southwest Portland. Alley gave Bass an elephant pin.

Oregon Public Broadcasting today confirmed that the GOP presidential debate planned at their studios March 19 has been cancelled.

The debate had been planned and organized by the Oregon Republican Party with OPB and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as media partners.

The station's communications director John Bell told The Skanner News that it is a great disappointment that the event won't be taking place because it would have been one of the rare times when national political aspirants would answer questions important to the Pacific Northwest region.

"There are a lot of issues that are specific to Oregon and Southwest Washington – timber payments, the amount of land that's federally managed which has an economic impact on the region, and of course issues of fisheries and oceans and energy policy – they generally don't get the national attention they deserve," Bell said.

He confirmed that OPB is not financially impacted by the cancellation because the CPB had received a grant to pay for it.

"Certainly we're disappointed its not happening—we were looking at it having the largest audience of any debate because it would have been the only debate not carried on cable," Bell said.

"A lot of staff members here put in a lot of hours to make it work -- plus the secret service, the Portland Police, we had a lot of media partners," he said. "At the same time it was a great experience for OPB to do something on this scale and a great team-building exercise."

Bell said OPB plans to produce special elections coverage closer to the elections in Oregon.

OPB's Vice President for Radio Programming Lyn Clendenin, center, joined more than 100 guests at the Monday event, held for all the people who would have been working on the Oregon GOP debate if Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum had agreed to come.

Within a heavy load of comments on the OPB Facebook fan page, Bell wrote there that the only confirmed candidate was Newt Gingrich.

"We're trying not to take it personally, but we just found out that the Republican Presidential Debate we were hoping to broadcast for PBS and NPR on Monday is not going to happen," the station posted on its fan page.

"I was actually looking forward to watching the candidates seeking the presidential nomination of the party most closely associated with the perpetual quest to abolish public broadcasting entirely due to the 'bias' against them they incorrectly accuse it of harboring, freely promoting their respective ideas in an event sponsored by and broadcast upon a public broadcasting station," OPB fan John E. Riutta posted. "The irony would have been delicious."

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