- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 5, 2004

CLEVELAND (AP) — The decorative banners were red, white and blue, but the debate yesterday between Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. John Edwards has local officials seeing green — as in 20 million greenbacks.

With a recent U.S. Census Bureau report listing Cleveland as the nation’s poorest big city, the 90-minute vice-presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University was a decided boost to the local economy.

Cleveland’s 7,500 hotel rooms were sold out as more than 1,000 members of the news media arrived for the presidential campaign’s only debate between the two vice-presidential candidates.

In addition to the immediate economic effect — estimated by the Greater Cleveland Convention and Visitors Bureau at nearly $20 million — officials hoped the media attention would showcase the city as a tourist destination.

“We have a substantial foreign press corps here, so there will be significant international exposure,” said bureau President Dennis Roche.

Case Western paid more than $4.1 million in fees and campus improvements to host the event, which generated excitement on the 150-acre urban campus, festooned yesterday with red, white and blue banners.

About 250 student volunteers in blue T-shirts turned out to help, as did several hundred faculty and staff members. More than 2,000 students entered in a lottery for debate tickets.

Not all the images were rosy, however. Some laid-off teachers were distributing apples to highlight school cuts, and backers of third-party candidates planned a peaceful protest against the two-man debate.

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