Lafayette College has been chosen to host the 2024 vice presidential debate, the school announced Monday.
It’s the first time the Easton college has been selected to host the event, scheduled for Sept. 25.
“It is a tremendous honor to host a vice presidential debate. We are delighted to open our campus for this important part of our nation’s democratic process and help bring this debate to the American electorate,” school President Nicole Hurd said in a statement.
The debate will be held in Kirby Sports Center. Additional details, including the format and moderators, will be announced in 2024 by the Commission on Presidential Debates, the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that has sponsored all general election presidential and vice presidential debates since 1988.
It will be the only vice presidential debate of the campaign season.
“Over the years, we have welcomed to our campus eight sitting, former, or future presidents and vice presidents,” Hurd said. “Our namesake, the Marquis de Lafayette, is renowned for his historic leadership of democratic values. With our civic-minded campus and traditions, Lafayette will proudly represent Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley, which always play a pivotal role in national politics.”
Hurd said the debate “will provide a valuable educational opportunity for the Lafayette community to witness a moment in U.S. history and engage in the democratic process.”
The first vice presidential debate was in 1976, when Republican Bob Dole and Democrat Walter Mondale squared off in Houston. Eight years later, the first female vice presidential nominee on a major party ticket, Democrat Geraldine Ferraro, debated Vice President George H.W. Bush in Philadelphia.
“For nearly 200 years, Lafayette has prepared its students to become compassionate, ethical leaders by helping them understand and get involved in consequential issues facing our nation and the world,” Hurd said. “This opportunity will only enhance and inspire those meaningful conversations as we present our vibrant campus to a national audience.”
Vice presidential debates don’t draw nearly as much attention as presidential ones, but they have given rise to memorable moments, including this 1988 exchange between Democrat Lloyd Bentsen and Republican Dan Quayle:
“I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency,” Quayle said.
“I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine,” Bentsen retorted. “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”
In 1992, relative unknown James Stockdale — a retired Navy admiral who was Ross Perot’s running mate on the independent ticket — offered an opening statement that left the audience laughing: “Who am I? Why I am here?”
Lafayette alumni have served a number of presidents, vice presidents or their spouses, including some who have visited the college during their careers.
Before becoming president, Benjamin Harrison visited in 1877 to see his son Russell graduate from the college. President Rutherford B. Hayes attended the rededication of Pardee Hall in 1880.
Dwight D. Eisenhower received an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree on Founders’ Day in 1946 after serving as supreme commander of Allied Forces in Europe in World War II.
Richard Nixon delivered the 1956 commencement address as vice president. Gerald Ford gave a talk in Colton Chapel in 1968 as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Former President George H.W. Bush gave the commencement address in 1998, while Joe Biden delivered the Lives of Liberty lecture while vice president in 2012.
Former President Jimmy Carter delivered the inaugural Pastor Lecture in International Affairs in 2013.